Former Kentucky, Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie lands head coaching job at Tarleton State

After a four-year stint coaching at his alma mater, Ranger College, Billy Gillispie is jumping up a level and taking over Division II Tarleton State, the school announced on Monday. Gillispie previously served as head coach at UTEP, Texas A&M, Kentucky and Texas Tech before his most recent stint at Ranger College.

The school is planning to hold a virtual press conference on Tuesday to formally introduce Gillispie.

“Coach Gillispie has shown to truly be genuine in the way he cares about helping student-athletes achieve great success both on and off the court,” said Tarleton State president Dr. James Hurley. “After a national search and an extensive interview process, we are confident that Coach Gillispie’s experience and commitment to Tarleton and our community make him the right person to build on the storied success of Texan basketball.”

Gillispie led Texas A&M to the NCAA Tournament in his final two seasons before taking the Kentucky job in 2007. There, he led the Wildcats to an 18-13 record and an NCAA Tournament berth in his first season but missed the tournament in his second season. He did not get a third season and was fired in 2009 after guiding UK to a 40-27 overall record during his tenure. Within a week, Kentucky had tabbed Memphis coach John Calipari as his successor.

Gillispie was out of basketball for several years before resurfacing at Texas Tech, a stint that was even shorter than Kentucky. He lasted one season, leading the Red Raiders to an 8-23 record. Texas Tech lost 18 of its final 19 games and finished last in the Big 12. He resigned from the Red Raiders, citing health reasons. 

At Ranger, Gillispie showed some signs of a coaching resurgence. He went 103-24 in his four seasons at the school and led the program to the NJCAA national title game in 2019. He was named JUCO National Coach of the Year.

“I cannot wait to get started,” Gillispie said. “At Tarleton, we will be inheriting an ultra-successful program that Lonn and Chris Reisman established as well as countless others that have poured their hearts and souls into Texan Basketball for more than 30 years. No program has been more successful during that time. We will try our hardest every day to honor the efforts that have been made as we move into a new era of Division I basketball and make every one of the Tarleton faithful proud.”

Tarleton State is slated to jump from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I on July 1, 2020, and will be a member of the Western Athletic Conference in basketball.

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