Trainer says James was monitored

Updated: January 2, 2010, 3:43 AM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

Texas Tech head football athletic trainer Steve Pincock said Red Raiders receiver Adam James was placed in a "sports medicine garage" and media room as "big as a two-car garage" while recovering from a concussion, and was monitored by two trainers at all times.

Pincock's account of the incident, given in a statement to representatives of former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, contradicts James' version of events that led to Leach being fired Wednesday.

James, who is the son of ESPN college football analyst Craig James, sustained a concussion on Dec. 16. He was examined the following day and told not to practice because of the injury and an elevated heart rate.

Pincock's statement was obtained by ESPN.com on Thursday night from Leach's representatives. Pincock refused further comment when reached on his cell phone in San Antonio, Texas, where the Red Raiders are preparing to play Michigan State in Saturday's Alamo Bowl.

A source told ESPN's Joe Schad that Leach called a trainer and directed him to move James "to the darkest place, to clean out the equipment and to make sure that he could not sit or lean. He was confined for three hours."

According to the source, Leach told the trainer, two days later, to "put [James] in the darkest, tightest spot. It was in an electrical closet, again, with a guard posted outside."

However, Pincock said James was initially placed in a "sports medicine garage, there is no lock on this building." Pincock said injured players are typically asked to perform exercises during practice, but "James could not participate in these drills, and was originally asked to walk around the field."

"Adam showed up to practice in street clothes, no team gear, and dark sunglasses," Pincock said, according to the statement. "Adam walked about 40 to 50 yards, very slowly and with a non-caring attitude."

Pincock said Leach then asked that James be moved to a location "where sunlight could not bother him as he was wearing sunglasses."

"I instructed Adam to stay in the garage and out of the sun, so the light would not worsen his condition," Pincock said in the statement. "While in the garage, Adam was walking around, eating ice, sitting on the ground, and, at one point, sleeping; at no point was there any enforcement to make Adam stand up."

Leach, during an on-air interview Thursday night with ESPN, said he had not suggested any place specific for James. "I said, find someplace dark and one place was as good as the next, and that was close to the field, and plus they had the ice machine," Leach said.

Two days later, while the Red Raiders practiced at Jones AT&T Stadium, James was placed in a room that is used for postgame interviews involving opposing coaches and players. James told school officials he was placed in an electrical closet inside the room.

"I walked Adam to the room, which was at least as big as a two-car garage," Pincock wrote. "Inside the room there is an electrical closet. I looked in the closet and stated that there was 'no way that Adam would be placed in there.' I shut the door to the electrical closet, and it was never opened again. At no time during this practice was Adam ever placed in the electrical closet."

During Thursday's ESPN interview, Leach said he believed money was a motivating factor in his dismissal.

"Last year, they didn't want to pay the money [in contract negotiations]. Based on popular opinion and public pressure and things like that, they got in a position where, to save face, they had to give me a competitive contract, which they did," he said. "Then I think, whether it's for financial reasons or what, they decided not to follow through. Now essentially they're trying to steal the money."

In a phone interview with The New York Times, Leach described a divisive and tense relationship with Craig James, whom he said he had to deal with more than every other parent on the team combined. He said James frequently attended practices and called assistant coaches.

"I think he used his position at ESPN to try to coerce me into allowing Adam to play more," Leach told the Times. "But the thing about it is as the coach, I watch every inch of film. I'm deferring to the judgment of 12 people as we look at the film on who should play and who should play when and then we make our decision based on that. I don't feel like it's fair to the other players and I don't think it's the right way to do business to allow influence and position to dictate when you play a young man."

When Craig James was asked about those claims, he called them "absurd," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.

James later released a statement.

"Coach Leach has made damaging and untrue comments, about my actions, about my son, and about a business relationship -- which does not exist -- between me and the leadership of the University," James said.

"He's simply trying to shift attention from his own actions and from the findings of a University investigation which we believe was fair and thorough. As we have said over and over, our concern was about the safety and well being of our son and of all the other fine young men on the team. Any parent who found their son in this situation would step forward."

Leach curtly dismissed James' statement.

"I don't care what he thinks," Leach told The Associated Press on Friday. "I know what the truth is, have from the beginning, and it doesn't matter what he thinks."

"It's either power or control, or they didn't want to pay," he said.

Leach also told the Times that the release of a series of e-mail messages obtained by The Dallas Morning News proved that the university did not want him around. In one, a booster recommended to Tech administrators, "You should sign a contract that would not cost us too much to fire him."

"It's shocking to me that there's people working together that were trying to get me fired last year after an 11-1 regular season," Leach told the newspaper.

Mark Schlabach is a college football writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Mark Schlabach | email

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