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Mike Leach loses appeal in suit vs Texas Tech
LUBBOCK, TEXAS (AP) - The fight between Mike Leach and Texas Tech isn’t over yet.
Leach’s attorney vowed to keep fighting after the Texas Supreme Court on Friday rejected the former coach’s appeal in his wrongful termination lawsuit against Texas Tech. The court issued its decision without comment more than two years after he was fired by the university amid allegations that he mistreated a player with a concussion.
The player, Adam James, is the son of Craig James, a former SMU star and ESPN broadcaster who is currently a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas. Leach denied the allegation and later sued the school, saying he suspects an $800,000 bonus he was due the day after his 2009 firing was behind his dismissal. He was recently hired as the coach at Washington State.
Leach’s attorneys had challenged an appellate ruling that threw out Leach’s breach of contract claim against Texas Tech based on sovereign immunity for the university. The ruling allowed Leach to try to show Tech’s reasons for firing him were wrong _ without monetary relief _ and the university appealed that decision to the state's high court.
Liggett also said sovereign immunity has been wrongly applied to Texas Tech. He said state entities should not enjoy blanket protection from civil suits because there are circumstances under which state entities don’t deserve it.
“We believe the doctrine of sovereign immunity has to be overturned,” he said. “We think it denies due process, right to trial. It’s fundamental constitutional issues at work here. The people are sovereign, not the state.”
Texas Tech spokesman Dicky Grigg said he hoped the latest decision was “the end of the road.”
Leach did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Attorneys on both sides have swapped accusations and court filings since the firing, with the highly successful coach claiming among other things that school leaders were persuaded in part to fire him by the older James. Leach’s attorney claimed Leach couldn’t get a job for months because of the firing.
A trial court’s ruling on sovereign immunity went against the school, but the decision from the 7th Court of Appeals upheld Texas Tech’s assertion that it is a state entity and can only be sued with permission from the state Legislature or a waiver based on a defendant’s conduct.
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