Billy Gillispie retiring from coaching, citing health issues

Billy Gillispie, who preceded John Calipari as men's basketball coach at Kentucky, is retiring due to health concerns.

The 57-year-old told The Dallas Morning News and ESPN of his decision on Wednesday night.

Gillispie had been coaching at Ranger College, a community college in Texas where he played in the 1970s.

"No one's ever enjoyed coaching more than I have, I promise, and no one's ever been luckier in the coaching profession than I have," Gillispie said in a text message.

"What a wonderful career! I've been very sick with blood pressure issues since the summer, but I've tried to fight it out," Gillespie added. "I got a report Monday that told me if I didn't address this blood pressure situation immediately, irreversible, bad things were very likely to happen here relatively soon and my long-term health could be compromised.

"Timing isn't great, but I've decided to do what I was told and try to return to healthy ASAP....Next step for me is to get really healthy and enjoy retirement."

This was his second season at Ranger College. The school went 31-7 in Gillispie's only full season, reaching the national junior college tournament before forfeiting all the wins because of an ineligible player.

Gillispie was the head coach at UTEP and Texas A&M before being hired by Kentucky in 2007. He lasted with the Wildcats for just two seasons, going 40-27 before the school fired the hardscrabble coach due to philosophical differences.

A two-year hiatus ensued that included a stint at John Lucas' substance-abuse program in Houston following Gillispie's third arrest for drunken driving in 10 years.

The West Texas native eventually was hired as head coach at Texas Tech in 2011, replacing Pat Knight, before resigning a year later due to health concerns, amid allegations of player mistreatment. Texas Tech later admitted to violations of practice rules under Gillispie.

Gillispie had an eight-year record of 148-108 in his four NCAA stints.

ESPN's Andy Katz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.