VAUGHT: The two sides of Gillispie

Let me share two e-mails I've received that make it so perplexing to figure out what went wrong for coach Billy Gillispie at Kentucky.

Anieta Boyle and Christy Killion are both two central Kentucky women who are obviously Big Blue fans. However, they have far different perspectives on Gillispie's firing.

Anieta Boyle says her and her husband have followed Kentucky basketball going back to coach Adolph Rupp's tenure when they were UK students.

"My husband has been a member of the 101 Booster Club at UK for nearly 40 years. We have seen up close all of the coaches. As with many other Kentuckians we have followed the Gillispie era very closely.

"What some of your readers have not followed or are not acknowledging is the abusive treatment of the players. How could you defend a man who has crucified his players in the locker room and behind the scenes and then put on that silly grin as he talked about his players to the media? There is a difference between a tough coach and an abusive one. How come on several occasions what he said and what really happened were not in a agreement?

"It was very evident midseason that the Kentucky players were not having fun. Then Gillispie faced the media after his dismissal at his press conference with another face, one looking for another job and $6 million.

"The only criticism I have of (athletics director) Mitch Barnhart and Lee Todd is that if they knew that this kind of thing was happening, they should have fired him last year. It doesn't matter if he is a good coach. It doesn't matter if he is good with the media or the fans. If he has been abusive, emotionally or physically, to the Kentucky players, good riddance!"

Killion has a different perspective on Gillispie and what athletics director Mitch Barnhart said about him not being the right fit at UK.

"Anyone with a single brain wave knows that ‘right fit, right chemistry' translates to ‘won't suck up to the right people, and didn't win enough games to earn the right not to suck up to those people.' If he had gone 31-5, we would have never heard about him not fitting.

"I've stayed after many, many UK home games because my son hoped to see players and get autographs. Every time we stayed, Gillispie was gracious to a fault. Every time we stayed, Gillispie did not leave the gym until he had signed every basketball, T-shirt, ball cap and every autograph requested of him.

"He would take time to have his picture taken with fans. I saw him kneel down beside a little boy so his dad could take a picture of them together. Gillispie's predecessor never did that. When Gillispie signed an autograph for my son, I said, ‘Thanks, Coach.' He replied, ‘No, thank you for coming.' And I have been told by numerous people who saw him at the airport and different establishments in Lexington how completely accommodating and gracious Gillispie was to them. But there again, maybe he just didn't cultivate the right fan base, (meaning) big-wig boosters and self-important Lexington reporters.

"UK will be the one hurt most by this because of the shadow of unfairness it casts on the administration and fans."

Two die-hard UK fans with far different takes on Gillispie and his time at Kentucky. But this also shows why the next coach needs to be someone who can immediately unify what is a somewhat divided fan base right now.

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