UK Men's Basketball

Firing letter cites contract

The hand-delivered letter informing Billy Gillispie he was being fired as Kentucky's basketball coach cites his refusal to sign a formal contract as a specific reason for the "incompatibility" between the school and its former coach.

The letter, dated March 27 and signed by Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, was obtained by The Associated Press Thursday under Kentucky's open records law. Gillispie received a copy of the letter Friday during a meeting at the home of UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. in which Barnhart and Todd told him he was being replaced.

"This letter is to confirm our conversation this afternoon," Barnhart wrote. "As we discussed, it is our belief that the relationship between you and the University is simply not a good fit in many ways. The inability to come to an agreement on critical terms of an employment contract after two years of negotiation is just one indication of this incompatibility.

"As such, we are terminating our relationship with you effective immediately."

The letter then informs Gillispie that the university hopes to achieve a "fair separation agreement" and asks his attorney to follow up with the school's outside counsel to work on that. It closes with the sentence, "We wish you much success and all the best in your future endeavors."

Gillispie and Kentucky, which introduced John Calipari Wednesday as his replacement, appear to be at odds on the amount of a buyout owed the former coach.

Gillispie contends he is owed $6 million as stipulated in a memorandum of understanding that was holding the place of a contract until a formal agreement could be reached. But Todd said last week that memorandum was considered only a year-to-year contract, and its provisions — including the buyout cause — would only become official if the full contract were signed.

A call Thursday to Gillispie's Tulsa attorney, Stuart Campbell, was not immediately returned.

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