Fired coach accuses Texas Tech of slander, libel
Associated Press Writers
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) – Fired Texas Tech coach Mike Leach on Friday accused his former bosses of making “slanderous and libelous” statements intended to damage his reputation and hurt him financially.
Court documents filed Friday said statements made by university administrators “were made intentionally” to harm Leach and expose him to financial harm.
Leach was fired Dec. 30, just days before Texas Tech played in the Alamo Bowl, after the family of receiver Adam James said he mistreated the player after he suffered a concussion.
“The mere allegation that a head football coach would mistreat a student athlete threatens that coach’s reputation and prospects for future employment and exposes him to ridicule and contempt,” Leach’s attorney said in the court filing.
Leach has denied he mistreated James. The player said his coach twice ordered him to stand for hours while confined in a dark place during practice.
Texas Tech spokeswoman Sally Post said Friday the school does not comment on pending litigation.
“We’re confident that the facts in this matter speak for themselves,” she said.
Leach did not immediately respond to a phone call and text message Friday.
When asked whether filing documents Thursday and Friday was intended to keep the case in the public eye, Leach attorney Ted Liggett said, “I’m not a PR firm; we’re a law firm. I’m not trying to do anything other than getting Mike what he deserves.”
The latest filing amends one filed on Dec. 29 with the intent of allowing Leach to coach in the bowl game. He was fired the next day.
The university says it fired Leach with cause and contends it does not have to pay him any of the money remaining in his contract. Leach’s attorneys contend Tech “wrongfully terminated Leach without cause.”
Had Leach been the coach on Dec. 31 he was due an $800,000 bonus.
On Thursday, Leach’s attorneys asked a state district judge to allow them to question administrators and James – a sophomore and son of former NFL player and ESPN analyst Craig James – in the next two weeks. The attorneys, who also want documents and communications from the school pertaining to Leach going back to Jan. 1, 2006, want to take the case to trial by March 1.
In Friday’s filing, Leach’s attorneys claim Texas Tech officials have given “conflicting statements about the basis” for Leach’s dismissal, “casting doubt” on their reasons for firing him.
Two Texas Tech regents released statements on the university’s Web site late Thursday saying Leach had only himself to blame for being fired.
Vice chairman Jerry Turner and John Scovell, both former Red Raider football players, wrote that Leach’s suspension and dismissal came from Leach’s “profane and defiant refusal” to recognize and resolve the situation.
He was fired for “poor judgment” in dealing with the receiver’s injury and his “unwillingness” to work with the school, according to their statement.