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Thursday, February 19, 2009
Leach wins big by earning contract extension

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Thursday's contract extension for Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was done with a flair for the dramatic that was almost as memorable as the Red Raiders' last-second landmark triumph over Texas last season.

 
  L. Scott Mann/Icon SMI
  Texas Tech and coach Mike Leach agreed Thursday on a new deal.

This time, there was no need for Michael Crabtree to make a late, game-winning catch in the final seconds. Leach took care of all that by himself.

After huddling for 2 1/2 hours Thursday afternoon with Tech chancellor Kent Hance, Leach and school officials emerged to announce the details of the contract.

Less than a day before Tech's board of trustees was set to potentially end his nine-season tenure coaching the Red Raiders, Leach's job status appears set for the next five seasons.

The financial terms of the $12.7 million contract weren't the real question. But the wording of the contract was, and Leach ended up with a clear victory.

The new agreement includes no buyout clause for Leach if he were to find another job. Tech's original offer included a clause that would have required him to pay $300,000 for each year remaining on the contract.

Leach now will have to notify Tech officials if he plans to interview for another job, but there will be no penalty for doing so.

Leach's concession came on the percentage of his contract that will be guaranteed. His new deal will provide $2 million of the total $12.7 million package, or about 16 percent. Tech had originally asked for 12 percent.

Both sides compromised on the last sticking point of the agreement. Leach will retain the rights to his likeness and income from books, movie deals and national speaking engagements.

The key for Leach came in the last 72 hours when he made a late blitz by appearing on countless national television and radio shows. His availability enabled him to get his story out while Tech officials retreated.

Public opinion turned decidedly during that period. A couple of disgruntled fans bought a full-page advertisement in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Wednesday, expressing their dismay with the school's handling of Leach's contract talks.

The deal's chances of happening also improved because Leach and Hance negotiated directly. Leach's agents, Gary O'Hagan and Matt Baldwin, were in Indianapolis to attend the NFL combine.

The new deal will now make Leach the third-highest paid coach in the Big 12 -- behind only Texas' Mack Brown and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops -- and should enable him to become the winningest coach in school history. Leach is tied for second place on the school's all-time list with 76 victories, six behind Spike Dykes.