Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel of the NEW YORK TIMES have the definitive interview of Mike Leach in the wake of his firing as Texas Tech football coach this week.
Leach confirmed in the visit what has been widely reported, but he also added some details of his treatment of Adam James that are critical to understanding what motivated Tech Athletic Director Gerald Myers and Tech Chancellor Kent Hance to fire Leach.
Leach said, in a statement confirmed on the record by Head Tech Football Trainer Steve Pincock, he never directed the team trainer to send James to any place in particular. Pincock himself made the decision as to where James was placed during practice.
It has been widely reported that Leach locked Adam James in a closet or a shed after James sustained a concussion at a practice last month. Leach said he only ordered James to be taken “out of the light” and did not know specifically where he had been taken.
“I was busy coaching practice,” Leach said.
He added: “There have been several things that have been brought to my attention on the ticker that’s just false,” Leach said, referring to ESPN’s bottom line ticker. “He was never locked anywhere. At no point was he locked anywhere. At no point was there an electrical closet.”
Doctor Michael Phy also examined James and said of his treatment by the Tech football staff:
“According to the information given to me, no additional risks or harm were imposed on Adam by what he was asked to do.”
The personal dispute between Leach and Craig James is an area where Leach has little chance to prevail. But the on the record accounts of the treatment of Adam James from medical personnel is critical to making a judgement about Leach’s disputed firing.
When you combine that with on the record statements from James’ last two position coaches at Tech about the player’s poor work habits and attitude, it appears that Myers and Hance are going to have a very difficult legal battle in justifying why Leach was fired.
Especially in light of emails that were circulated between the two Tech administrators and Tech Board of Regents member Jim Sowell that stated that school administrators should, “sign a contract that would not cost us too much to fire him.”
Based on the on the record, material information we have at present, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Leach demand the balance of his contract in this dispute.
And be awarded every penny of it.