There are some divorces in which, once the union is torn asunder, the parties are so hurt, so angry, so disappointed in each other they seem more intent on punishing the other party than pursuing their own self-interest.
Billy Gillispie and the University of Kentucky seem to be engaged in one of them.
Last week, that divorcing "couple" filed dueling, multi-state lawsuits against each other arguing over the terms of the financial settlement that will finally end their unsatisfying union.
Before this potential basketball version of the War of the Roses (the film, not the actual War) gets any hotter, I'd like to offer both a bit of advice.
Never miss a local story.
You each have a lot to lose if this case ever gets to court — or even to the deposition stage.
So settle the darned thing.
Gillispie escalated the "divorce proceedings," when he filed suit in a federal court in Dallas on May 28 seeking to enforce the buyout provision — which in this case would be worth $6 million — in the memorandum of understanding the coach signed with UK at the time he was hired to replace Tubby Smith.
As everyone who didn't spend the last two years on Saturn knows, Gillispie never got around to signing a traditional contract with UK.
In its countersuit filed in Franklin Circuit Court here in Kentucky on May 29, UK pressed the claim that the memorandum of understanding "is not an enforceable long-term contract of employment, and that it owes no damages to Gillispie."
The longer this situation stays in the news, the more it emphasizes the rather dramatic public change of face UK administrators did about the nature of their memorandum with Gillispie.
Essentially, for two years, Kentucky acted like its memorandum with Gillispie was a contract.
On April 25, 2008, I had an interview with UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart in his office that dealt with Gillispie's first season.
I asked whether Kentucky and Gillispie were ever going to sign a formal contract.
This was Barnhart's reply in full:
"Ohhhhh, we might get to it. We're OK where we are," the UK AD said. "Would we like to get something formalized? Sure. I think that would quiet everybody up. Everyone else seems more worried about it than we are.
"We've got the Memorandum of Understanding, and that is working fine for us. It basically has all the elements in there, as I've said before. To crystallize that for all of you guys would probably be more helpful for you guys than us.
"For the media and the general public. I think people freak out because they don't understand what a memorandum of understanding is, a memorandum of agreement. But we've been fine. We worked through the entire first year under those guidelines.
"But I think that (a traditional contract) would certainly quell everybody else's concern. It seems to be a topic of conversation when it really doesn't need to be is my point. The way we are functioning is working."
Now, I'm not an attorney, so I can't say if UK's reversal to a stance that its memorandum with Gillispie is NOT a contract was the best legal argument it had to try to knock down the price of the coach's buyout.
But I do know that such an abrupt change in public position does nothing for the credibility of the university's leadership.
That is a reason that settling this case and making this flip-flop issue go away would so clearly be in the university's self interest.
Which is not to say, that in taking his case to court, Gillispie has nothing to lose. In terms of his reputation, I think he has a ton at risk the longer this goes.
If Billy G. hopes to coach again — especially at a major (BCS conference) school — I suspect it is not in his interest at all for UK to air in full the grievances that led to its firing the coach after only two years.
For one thing, I am fairly certain that Gillispie's coaching methods, if revealed via testimony, would not be real appealing to future employers.
That is a reason that settling this case and getting his ill-fated Kentucky experience out of the news would so clearly be in Gillispie's self-interest.
For both UK and Billy G., it's past time to agree on an "alimony" payment and MOVE ON.