Texas Tech Fires Pat Knight

Texas Tech head coach Pat Knight was informed Monday morning that he would not return as the team's head coach next season.

LUBBOCK — Texas Tech men's basketball head coach Pat Knight met with Texas Tech President Guy Bailey early Monday morning where Knight was informed that he would be relieved of his duties as head basketball coach at the conclusion of the season.

A source confirmed this to RaiderPower.com before the university released its official statement concerning Knight.

"I felt like it was time to make a change within our men's basketball program," Bailey said in the statement. "I appreciate everything Pat has done for our university, not only as a head coach, but also throughout his career as an assistant. I wish him success and the best moving forward."

Knight will continue to coach the team throughout this week's Big 12 Championship basketball tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

Knight is 50-60 as Tech's head coach with one winning season (2009-10).

Incoming Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a radio interview on Monday that the search would begin immediately for a replacement and "leader" to take over as head coach.

The early favorite, of course, appears to be former Texas A&M and Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie, who has been out of coaching for nearly three years. Gillispie led A&M to two NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 1987 before he was hired away to coach at Kentucky, where he had little success. Gillispie was fired after two seasons and a 40-27 record that included the second-most losses (14) in Kentucky school history.

Gillispie was arrested on Aug. 27, 2009 for a DUI and has since been reportedly "cleaning up" to attempt to get back into coaching.

This brings an end to the Knight era that began back in 2001 when his father, legendary head coach Bob Knight, took over for James Dickey. Dickey was fired during the Big 12 tournament almost exactly 10 years ago to make room for Knight.

Pat Knight served as an assistant coach on his father's bench for six and a half years before taking over as Tech's head coach on Feb. 4, 2008, after his dad stepped down from the position that morning.

"There's a transition that's going to take place here from me to Pat," Bob Knight said in his statement back in 2008. "And I've dwelt on this all year long ... how it would be best for him and for the team and for what we can do in the long run to make this the best thing for Texas Tech."

That tough transition began to show promise last season when Tech got off to its best start in 50 years (10-0) capped by an upset overtime win at home against No. 10 Washington that put Tech in the Top 25 for the first time in nearly five years.

The Red Raiders struggled down the stretch in 2010 before the Big 12 Tournament, winning its first round game against Colorado before being knocked out by top-seeded Kansas. Tech made it to the NIT Quarterfinals but expectations were set that this was the team to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.

In a manner of being outspoken just like his father, Knight declared at the Big 12 Media Days in November that he would leave if his team failed to make the NCAA Tournament this season.

But nothing ever came together like it should have this season. Tech struggled from the free-throw line and floor, shooting under 43 percent overall in its first 12 games. Then came the struggles through conference play and verbal battles through the media with fans and their lack of support — evident in the attendance at Tech's home games this season.

The 11th-seeded Red Raiders (13-18, 5-11 Big 12) will open the Big 12 Tournament at 8:30 p.m., Wednesday against third-seeded Missouri (22-9, 8-8) at the Sprint Center.

Travis Cram is the Managing Editor for RaiderPower.com. You can email him at travis.f.cram@gmail.com. You can also follow his daily updates live from the Big 12 Tournament on Twitter.

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