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Posted: Wednesday May 27, 2009 6:17PM; Updated: Wednesday May 27, 2009 7:34PM

Gillispie seeks $6M from Kentucky

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Former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie is suing UK for $6 million

The coach contends his memorandum of understanding entitles him to $6 million

He filed the suit in federal court in Dallas

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Former Kentucky men's basketball coach Billy Gillispie sued the school Wednesday, seeking at least $6 million he says he is owed on his deal for being fired without cause.

Gillispie, who was dismissed last spring, was working under a memorandum of understanding but hadn't signed a formal contract during the two years he coached at Kentucky.

He contends that under that memorandum, he should be paid $1.5 million a year for four of the five years left on the deal. The suit also asks for an undisclosed amount of punitive damages, attorneys' fees, court costs and interest.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Dallas contends the school's athletics association is in breach of contract and has committed fraud because the university never intended to honor the agreement.

"Rather than honor its written, signed deal with coach Gillispie, defendant prefers instead to pretend as though no deal was ever reached," the lawsuit says. "Unfortunately for defendant, its make-believe world is just that."

University attorneys expressed surprise over the lawsuit.

"The university was continuing to negotiate a separation in good faith and his counsel had asked for more time," they said in a statement.

Jimmy Stanton, a spokesman for University of Kentucky President Lee Todd, said there wouldn't be further comment because it now involves pending litigation. Athletics director Mitch Barnhart didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Much of the 24-page lawsuit highlights the 49-year-old Gillispie's biography, describing him as an up-and-coming coach who resurrected a Texas A&M program before leaving to lead Kentucky, the nation's all-time winningest college basketball program.

"He resigned a promising, successful position as head-coach with a rapidly ascending program at Texas A&M," it says. "He did so because he believed (the university's) false representations to him during his negotiations."

In three seasons with the Aggies, Gillispie was 70-26, making the NCAA tournament twice including the Sweet 16 in 2007. The previous three seasons before Gillispie came on board, A&M was 20-22.

Gillispie went 40-27 in two seasons with the Wildcats, including a 22-14 mark last season that tied for the second-most losses in the program's 106-year history. A stumble down the stretch left the Wildcats out of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.

Gillispie's attorney, Demetrios Anaipakos, said Gillispie prefers to let the lawsuit speak for itself for now. He said it was appropriate that it be filed in Texas rather than Kentucky.

"This lawsuit belongs in Dallas because that is where the University of Kentucky contacted coach Gillispie," he said. "That is where they negotiated their deal, and that is where parties reach the understanding he would be a new head coach."

Gillispie still has a home near Lexington. He is not coaching right now.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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