LEXINGTON, KY. Kentucky scratched one Billy off its list, and moved on to another.
Hours after Florida coach Billy Donovan politely told Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart he's happy in Gainesville, Texas A&M; coach Billy Gillispie emerged as a leading candidate to replace Tubby Smith.
Texas A&M; athletic director Bill Byrne granted Kentucky permission to contact Gillispie about the opening late Thursday.
"Coach Gillispie is one of the top coaches in the country and we certainly do not want to lose him," Byrne said in a statement. "At the same time, I do not want to stand in the way of any member of my department who wants to explore another option if he or she feels that is in their best interest."
Gillispie, who took the Aggies to the NCAA Tournament's round of 16 this year for the first time since 1980, agreed in principle to a contract last week that will pay him $1.75 million annually. Texas A&M; spokesman Colin Killian said he was not sure whether Gillispie had signed the new deal.