Leach's suit claims firing predetermined

Updated: April 17, 2010, 7:36 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Attorneys for Mike Leach claim in new court filings Friday that a day after signing a new contract last year a top Texas Tech administrator and two members of its board of regents "secretly agreed" to fire him before the school had to pay him an $800,000 bonus.

Information in the documents was drawn from depositions and electronic communications between university officials that Leach's attorneys have gathered in his lawsuit against the university.

Leach was fired Dec. 30, two days after he was suspended following a claim from the family of receiver Adam James that the coach mistreated the player after he got a concussion.

Leach has denied he mistreated James and said he suspects the $800,000 bonus he was to have received Dec. 31 was the reason he was fired.

Tech attorney Dicky Grigg said Friday's filing shows despair.

"Today's action by Mike Leach and his attorneys is another absurd act of desperation," he said in a statement. "This is the legal strategy one deploys when the facts and the law are irrefutably against him."

According to the court filings, on Feb. 20, 2009, it was discussed "that TTU would obtain the benefits of Leach's performance but chisel him out of his compensation."

"Infuriated" by Leach's conduct during contract talks, Tech Chancellor Kent Hance and regents Larry Anders and Jerry Turner "secretly agreed" they would terminate Leach "at the appropriate time," the filing states.

It also adds Craig James, Adam James' father who is an ESPN analyst and former NFL player, and several university officials and regents as defendants in the lawsuit.

Craig James' attorney, James T. Drakeley, issued a statement on James' behalf on Friday night:

"Mr. Leach has added Craig and others to his lawsuit because, for him, this has always been about avoiding responsibility for his conduct," Drakeley said. "For Craig, this has always been about protecting his son Adam from a coach who wanted to pressure him to practice with a concussion. The claims asserted against Craig have no merit whatsoever and Craig will answer the lawsuit and defend himself honorably and vigorously."

Leach's attorneys also claim that Hance twice told the attorney investigating the mistreatment complaint to change her report because it was "too mild" and "too milk toast," court documents show.

Also, the filing accuses the university of not following guidelines of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in that it allowed Hance and two regents to be involved in Leach's contract negotiations last year and in the investigation of Adam James' treatment by Leach.

Only Tech President Guy Bailey and athletic director Gerald Myers are authorized to negotiate, court documents say.

The filing accuses Turner of improperly interfering when he contacted the attorney investigating Adam James' alleged mistreatment Dec. 21 -- after she allegedly had interviewed only Adam and Craig James -- and told her "the investigation should be used to terminate" Leach.

Leach's attorney, Ted Liggett, said Friday he wants the case to go to trial and that the damages Leach would be seeking aren't yet determined.

"It would be reckless of me to hazard a guess at that now other than to say that figure is getting bigger every day," he said. "Every day that Mike is out of work ... raises the damages model."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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