Saturday, January 2, 2010
University releases affidavits
By Joe Schad ESPN.com
Texas Tech has released a signed, sworn affidavit from an athletic trainer who says former coach Mike Leach instructed him to "lock" receiver Adam James in a dark place and that he disagreed with Leach's treatment of James after the player was diagnosed with a concussion.
According to his affidavit, taken by representatives of the university on Dec. 21 and signed on Jan. 1, trainer Steve Pincock did not agree with the treatment and said he knew of no other player ever being placed in a similar room.
In releasing the affidavits from Pincock and treating physician Dr. Michael Phy, the university said, "After coach Leach's conflicting recent media accounts of the treatment of James, the university asked witnesses to sign affidavits attesting to their original statements."
Phy told university officials in his affidavit that James "may not have been harmed," but he "considered this practice inappropriate, and a deviation from the medical standard of care."
Leach was fired by Texas Tech on Wednesday, two days after he was suspended by the university as it investigated James' allegations of mistreatment. James is the son of ESPN college football analyst Craig James.
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In the affidavit released Saturday, Pincock said following James' concussion diagnosis, he showed up at practice in "street clothes, his cap on backwards, and sunglasses and began walking around the field in a very nonchalant way."
Pincock said Leach was upset by James' attitude and did not want the other players witnessing it.
"Leach told me to place James in a dark place near the practice field," Pincock said in the affidavit.
Pincock said Leach continued in an expletive-filled rant in which he degraded James and questioned his toughness.
Pincock said that at Leach's instruction, he placed James in a sports medicine/athletic training shed near the field, with all of the coolers and containers taken away, and instruction from Leach that James should not sit for two to three hours. Pincock described the shed as the size of a single-car garage, with no windows.
In the affidavit, Pincock stated he told James he was "sorry for having to place him in a dark shed but these were Leach's instructions. I do not agree with this form of treatment for anyone, and I discussed this with James."
Pincock said that two days later, instead of the shed, it was suggested James might be placed in a media interview room, which was "very dark and cold." Pincock said the media interview room contained an electrical closet, but he told James not to go into that room because of the noise level.
In the affidavit, Pincock said: "I am not aware of any other player at Texas Tech University ever being placed in a darkened shed or room similar to James. Other players who have sustained concussions in the past were sometimes placed in the physician's examination room with the lights dimmed, or in the weight room or athletic training room. I feel that Leach's treatment of James was inappropriate and I did not agree with it. However, I felt I had to follow the instructions of the head coach."
Texas Tech also released the affidavit from Phy, taken on Dec. 22 and signed on Jan. 1. In it, Phy said: "I did not instruct anyone with Texas Tech to place James in an enclosed dark place for up to three hours. In spite of the fact that James may not have been harmed by these actions, I consider the practice inappropriate, and a deviation from the medical standard of care."
Attempts to reach Leach for comment were unsuccessful.
Earlier this week, ESPN.com obtained a statement made by Pincock from Leach's representatives, in which he contradicted James' version of the events that led to Leach's firing.
In that account, Pincock said James was placed in a "sports medicine garage" on the first day, and a media room as "big as a two-car garage" the second day while recovering from the concussion, and was monitored by two trainers at all times.
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A source had told ESPN 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."
But in the statement to Leach's representatives, as well as the affidavit signed Friday, Pincock said James was not placed in an electrical closet.
"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."
On Friday, Leach denied he mistreated Adam James and said Craig James lobbied frequently to get his son more playing time. Leach said the elder James meddled "more than any parent I've dealt with my entire career."
When asked about claims that he meddled, Craig James called them "absurd," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.
Leach also claims he was fired for financial reasons. He was in the first season of a five-year, $12.7 million contract.
Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.