Former Kentucky basketball coach Gillispie pleads not guilty to driving under the influence

Ex-Ky. coach pleads not guilty to DUI charge

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — Former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol following his arrest early Thursday in central Kentucky.

Gillispie wore an orange jumpsuit and said few words during his video arraignment, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. The judge told Gillispie she was suspending his right to drive in Kentucky because he refused to take blood and breath tests.

According to a police report, Gillispie had a strong smell of alcohol on his breath and slurred speech when he was pulled over along a highway in Lawrenceburg about 30 miles from Lexington.

Gillispie was fired as the Wildcats’ coach after last season.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. (AP) — Former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie was charged with driving under the influence early Thursday after police who pulled him over said his speech was slurred and he smelled of alcohol.

A police report said the arrest happened at 2:47 a.m. along a highway in Lawrenceburg about 30 miles from Lexington, where Gillispie coached the Wildcats until earlier this year.

Police responded after dispatchers received complaints of a possibly intoxicated driver, and pulled over Gillispie driving a white Mercedes with Texas plates.

Lawrenceburg police officer Michael Corley clocked Gillispie doing 63 mph in a 45 mph zone and pulled up behind Gillispie at a red light. When the light turned green, Gillispie’s car stayed motionless for one or two minutes before continuing down the road, Corley wrote in his report.

Corley eventually pulled Gillispie over in a school parking lot.

“Billy had a strong fruity smell coming from his person (possibly wine) and had red, glassy eyes and slow, slurred speech,” Corley wrote.

Corley asked Gillispie for his license. Gillispie said it was in the trunk. The coach appeared to be unsteady on his feet, Corley wrote.

When Corley asked Gillispie if he had been drinking, Gillispie replied “No, he’d been golfing all day.’”

The report said Gillispie refused breath and blood tests for alcohol.

Gillispie was taken to the jail in neighboring Franklin County, where he was seen leaving later Thursday morning in the back of a vehicle with a cell phone to his ear. His lawyer, Darren Winslow of Louisville, was driving. He said Gillispie was released on his own recognizance and declined further comment.

Gillispie was replaced by Memphis coach John Calipari this year after a rocky two-year tenure in which the Wildcats went 40-27. The arrest comes five months after Gillispie was dismissed, and the fallout has been messy.

Gillispie sued the university in federal court in Texas, alleging that the school’s athletics department owes him $6 million for firing him two years into a seven-year agreement. The university says he never signed a formal contract and the school doesn’t owe the money.

Despite the firing, Gillispie has retained a high profile in Kentucky and was a fixture at Keeneland Race Course during its spring meet, standing in the paddock before races and talking to fans.

The arrest marks at least the third time Gillispie has been cited for driving under the influence. In 1999, Gillispie was arrested on two charges: driving while intoxicated and improper use of a lane in Tulsa, Okla., where he was an assistant coach under Bill Self.

He eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving. The other charges were dismissed.

In 2003, in his first year as head coach at the University of Texas-El Paso, he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. The charges eventually were dismissed after a specially appointed prosecutor decided that there was not enough evidence to suggest that Gillispie was drunk. The coach, then 43, maintained his innocence through that process.

Gillispie addressed his mistakes during his introductory press conference at Kentucky in April 2007, saying he wasn’t “proud of some of things that I’ve done.”

Associated Press writers Roger Alford in Frankfort and Will Graves in Louisville contributed to this report.

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