Mike Leach Goes After ESPN, PR Firm in Latest Lawsuit

Dec 3, 2010

While at Texas Tech University, Mike Leach was known as an offensive genius, a football coach who asked his quarterback to throw the football to every corner of the field.
Apparently, the legal strategy of the former coach is fairly similar.
Late last month, attorneys representing Leach announced that they were suing ESPN and a public relations firm for libel and slander for their actions during the tumultuous time when Leach was fired.
To recap, Leach’s fall from grace began when he allegedly required football player Adam James to stand in an equipment room, while he was sitting out practice because of a concussion. James is the son of ESPN Commentator Craig James. Leach was ultimately fired on Dec. 29, 2009 for “continuous acts of insubordination” and his treatment of James. He sued the school, claiming James was a disciplinary problem and that his treatment of the student was not as bad as he portrayed.
More recently, he sued ESPN and Spaeth Communications for “willful and negligent defamation” in the period leading up to his firing.
Leach’s attorney, Ted Liggett, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that both companies communicated false information about Leach, causing the former coach’s “reputation” to take “a severe hit.” He added that he asked the defendants to retract their earlier statements and stop misrepresenting the facts of the case, but they refused. “ESPN and Spaeth Communications have been informed as to the falsity of the statements that they have made, yet they have failed to retract those statements,” he said.
Leach’s claim against Spaeth Communications centered in part on a YouTube video uploaded one day after Leach’s firing. The video — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZqvajnhZDU — purports to show James in the equipment room. Further, it was uploaded by Spaethcom8181.
However, a Spaeth Communications spokesperson issued the following statement:
“Because his effort to sue Texas Tech University individuals failed, it now appears that Coach Leach is looking for someone else to blame, and has shifted his focus to the Craig James family, ESPN and Spaeth Communications. This lawsuit is the predictable strategy of a man who is desperate to avoid accountability for his own behavior.”
Meanwhile, the coach, in his suit against the university, is seeking the rest of a five-year, $12.7 million contract that he signed in February 2009.
Leach told the New York Times: “We’ll go to trial in a heartbeat, and we’re excited about it. Besides the obvious fact we’ll be made whole by the contract and the facts prove that, it will also provide a public opportunity to clear my name.”
On the subject of a settlement, Dicky Grigg, a lawyer representing Texas Tech, reportedly told the paper: “It takes two to settle. I think that this thing would be better for both sides to get it over with and move on.”


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