Mike Leach’s Attorney to take Texas Tech to Trial
Attorneys for fired coach Mike Leach said Thursday they want to take Texas Tech to trial in the next six weeks and want to question some of the key figures in his dismissal.
The coach’s legal team filed court documents Thursday asking a state district judge to allow them to question administrators and others in about two weeks. One person they want to question is Adam James, the sophomore receiver whose family complaint about how Leach him after a concussion ultimately led to the coach’s firing last month.
James said his coach twice ordered him to stand for hours while confined in a dark place during practice.
Sally Post, a Texas Tech spokeswoman, said the university could not comment because it had not yet been served with notice of the filings.
The university fired Leach with cause on Dec. 30 and contends it does not have to pay him any of the money remaining in his contract. Leach’s attorneys argued in the filings that Tech “wrongfully terminated Leach without cause,” and Texas Tech “contends it does not owe him any additional salary or compensation, including bonuses.” Had Leach been the coach on Dec. 31 he was due an $800,000 bonus.
It was not clear late Thursday if a hearing date had been set.
No wrongful termination lawsuit has been filed, though the court filing Thursday makes reference to a suit. Leach’s attorneys said they want to take the case to trial by March 1.
“The pleadings that have been filed today speak for themselves,” said Leach attorney Ted Liggett, who added there likely would be additional filings.
Texas Tech regents chairman Larry Anders and two other members of the board, vice chairman Jerry Turner and John Scovell, released statements late Thursday saying Leach had only himself to blame for being fired.
Turner and Scovell, both former Red Raider football players, wrote that Leach’s “dislike for the student athlete and his family was the impetus for his misconduct.” They also said no other players who got concussions were treated like James.
The two regents wrote it would have been “unconscionable” to ignore Leach’s behavior. He was fired for “poor judgment regarding the mistreatment of an injured player and his unwillingness” to work with the school, according to their statement posted on the school’s Web site.
“Reasonable attempts were made to allow coach Leach the opportunity to address the issue with the student’s family and assure that a similar incident would not be repeated,” Turner and Scovell wrote. “His profane and defiant refusal to recognize and resolve the issue led to his suspension and ultimate dismissal.”
The school has moved swiftly to replace Leach, the highly successful but outspoken coach. The Red Raiders won the Alamo Bowl last weekend under interim coach Ruffin McNeil, who wants the permanent job. The school also talked with former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville this week.
Leach was suspended Dec. 28 after he refused to agree to guidelines for dealing with players set forth by his bosses in a Dec. 23 letter. The university launched an investigation into James’ allegations Dec. 20.
Leach’s suspension came as the university continued to investigate the claims by James, the son of former NFL player and ESPN analyst Craig James.
The next day Liggett asked for a court order to lift the suspension so Leach could coach the Red Raiders in the Jan. 2 bowl game. But just before the two sides were set to argue about the restraining order request, Tech fired Leach.
Leach’s attorneys are asking the court to order depositions of university system chancellor Kent Hance, school president Guy H. Bailey, athletic director Gerald Myers and James beginning in 15 days, the filings state.
The attorneys also want documents and communications from the school pertaining to Leach going back to Jan. 1, 2006.
Leach, the court filings show, “will not be able to obtain another head coaching position in the near term due to the very public, wrongful acts and statements of” the university, its agents and representatives.
Leach’s termination “will quickly” put him in “economic distress unless he is afforded the opportunity to conduct discovery and obtain an early trial date,” the filings state.
“The harm to him continues to a degree not felt by a car salesman, a doctor or nurse, a lawyer or virtually any other profession because of the uniqueness” of Division I football coaches, the attorneys said.