A herd of people stood around a courthouse in Lubbock awaiting word Wednesday on whether a judge would allow Mike Leach to coach in Saturday’s Alamo Bowl against Michigan State.
What happened next shocked even the most laid-back Red Raiders fan.
Armed with a letter that would forever change the face of the Texas Tech football program, the administration stunned the college football world by firing Leach. That letter, delivered to Leach’s attorney Ted Liggett, just before a hearing on whether Leach’s suspension would be overturned, stated that Leach was "terminated with cause effective immediately.”
The alleged mistreatment of sophomore receiver Adam James, son of former SMU and NFL player and current ESPN analyst Craig James, triggered the firing. James and his father complained to Tech officials about Leach’s actions after the son suffered a concussion in a Dec. 16 scrimmage.
"The main thing is the facts were pretty well undisputed," Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance said in an ESPN interview Wednesday. "Mike [Leach] acknowledged that he had [James] locked up, he acknowledged that he had given him a pretty good cussing and did not work with us to try to solve the problem.
"I wanted to solve the problem, so did the athletic director and the president. But Mike was adamant that he wasn’t going to have anyone second-guessing him, and it just went downhill."
Hance felt he had no choice but to fire Leach when the coach refused to write a letter apologizing for his actions against Adam James.
Leach released a statement Wednesday citing the strides Tech’s program had made in his tenure and offering an alternative motive for the firing.
"Over the past several months, there have been individuals in the Texas Tech administration, Board of Regents and booster groups who have dealt in lies, and continue to do so. These lies have led to my firing this morning," the statement read. "Texas Tech’s decision to deal in lies and fabricate a story which led to my firing, includes, but is not limited by, the animosity remaining from last year’s contract negotiations. I will not tolerate such retaliatory action; additionally, we will pursue all available legal remedies."
Tech’s termination letter said Leach was fired with cause, meaning the university does not owe Leach any of the remaining money left on a five-year, $12.7 million contract he agreed to in February. Leach was due an $800,000 bonus on Dec. 31 (today) if he were still the head coach.
Leach attorney Ted Liggett, sources said, will seek to get Leach the roughly $10 million remaining on the contract because he feels the firing was without merit.
A source with close ties to Leach said his firing had absolutely nothing to do with Adam James and everything to do with an administration and influential Tech backers who had grown tired of Leach.
"I think they are the same people that didn’t want to extend Mike’s contract."
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