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Friday, March 12, 2010
Attorney: Case 'substantially stronger'

Associated Press

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach spent more than five hours behind closed doors Friday, testifying under oath as part of his lawsuit against the school for firing him amid allegations he mistreated a player suffering from a concussion.

After completing his deposition, Leach gave a brief statement, his voice cracking with emotion as he talked about how great it was to be back in Lubbock after a decade building his pass-happy team into a Big 12 powerhouse.

"We've had 10 incredible years here, and had a really good day today," he said. "What can I say? It's 10 years."

He got up quickly from his chair and left the room.

Leach has denied he mistreated receiver Adam James last season and said he suspects an $800,000 bonus he was to have received Dec. 31 was the reason he was fired one day earlier. His lawsuit includes allegations of libel and slander and breach of contract.

We've had 10 incredible years here, and had a really good day today.

-- Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach

The sophomore receiver said his coach twice ordered him to stand for hours while confined in a dark place during practice. James and his father, former player and ESPN analyst Craig James, are expected to give their depositions on Saturday.

One of Leach's attorneys, Ted Liggett, said Leach will be in the room when Craig James is questioned, but not when the younger James gives his deposition.

Another one of Leach's attorneys, Paul Dobrowski, said his client's case is "substantially stronger" following depositions from school officials who investigated allegations of mistreatment. He said testimony from school Chancellor Kent Hance and a university attorney confirmed Leach's contention that Craig James wanted the coach fired when he complained about the way his son was treated following his injury.

One of the attorneys for Texas Tech, Dicky Grigg, said at a news conference late Friday that Leach testified that he "never treated" another player with a concussion like he treated Adam James.

"It was clear from Mike Leach's deposition taken today that he was out to punish a student athlete who had a brain concussion," Grigg said. "This is shown by the language he admitted today under oath that he used."

The school released a profanity-laden sentence Grigg said had been Leach's instruction to trainer Steve Pincock at that time, and that Leach admitted to saying in his sworn testimony Friday.

"What this language shows is that his intent was vindictive, not therapeutic to this young man," Grigg said. "Anything else that's being discussed by anyone, other than these indisputable facts proven under oath, anything else is simply an attempt to confuse and avoid the real issues."

Grigg did not take questions at the news conference.

Testimony from Hance and the attorney also confirmed that university President Guy Bailey penned a memo Dec. 27 to Hance recommending that Leach "be issued a letter of reprimand" and that the James case be closed, Dobrowski said.

But Dobrowski said Craig James got word to the chancellor that he wanted Leach fired. Hance relayed that information to the board of regents and board Chairman Larry Anders and Vice Chairman Jerry Turner were the ones that recommended Leach be fired, Dobrowski said.

Dobrowski said Hance and the attorney both testified in their depositions that it was "against Texas Tech policy for regents to unduly influence or direct Messrs. Bailey and Myers to terminate an employee like Mike Leach."

The Bailey memo also stated, Dobrowski said, that university policy gave Leach the right to file a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order after he was suspended Dec. 28 "without fear of retaliation." Yet he accused Anders of recommending that Leach be fired if he filed a lawsuit.

"I think that we know and they know that our case has gotten substantially stronger by virtue of the discovery process, and that the documents that Texas Tech has produced has confirmed Mike's position," Dobrowski said.

The case has been ugly, including a rapid-fire stream of court filings filled with accusations.

Dobrowski said it was "no coincidence" Texas Tech released video footage this week that shows Leach in the locker room after games against Baylor and Kansas State. Leach is seen and heard using profane language when talking to his team.

The school released the footage because, Dobrowski said, because it is "trying to smear Mike."

Grigg said the school was required by law to release the footage after media outlets filed open records requests. He said he did not know who informed the outlets the tapes existed but that they are "irrelevant" to this case.

The dispute was ordered into mediation, but Dobrowski said he believes the case will go to trial.

"That's my view," he said. "Certainly we are preparing for trial."