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Leach sues ESPN for firing remarks

FOOTBALL : COLLEGE NOTES

November 25, 2010|Associated Press

Former football coach Mike Leach sued ESPN Inc. and a public relations firm Wednesday, accusing them of libel and slander after he was fired by Texas Tech amid accusations that he mistreated a player suffering from a concussion.

The suit filed in Texas district court claims the network's coverage of Leach's firing last year was "willful and negligent defamation" and that it failed to "retract false and damaging statements" it made from "misinformation" provided to ESPN by Craig James, the father of the Texas Tech player.

Leach attorney Ted Liggett said the former coach wants "to set the record" straight.

"Mike Leach is adamant," Liggett said. "Mike Leach wants his name cleared. His reputation has taken a severe hit and been tarnished."

The university fired Leach last Dec. 30, two days after suspending him amid allegations he mistreated Adam James. Leach has denied the claim.

Adam James has said his coach twice ordered him to stand for hours while confined in a dark place during practice. On Wednesday, Liggett claimed that Adam James under oath said he thought it was "humorous" what Leach told him to do and that he didn't think Leach should have been fired.

The suit, which seeks undisclosed damages and retractions from ESPN and the PR firm, was filed now because the statute of limitations on slander and libel is one year.

Leach was fired a few days before Texas Tech beat Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl. Craig James was slated to be a broadcaster but was replaced by Mike Patrick, according to the suit.

Patrick described Adam James to "an audience of millions," saying, "There is Adam James, who is the young man who was actually punished for having a concussion," the lawsuit claims. Patrick's comments left the impression that "Leach punished a player for having a concussion."

James in the clear

Oregon said allegations of impropriety surrounding running back LaMichael James and a vehicle he had been driving are unfounded.

The university issued a statement Wednesday saying it was found that James' use of the vehicle "did not constitute a violation of NCAA legislation."

Questions arose after an anonymous tip that James was driving a sport utility vehicle that he borrowed from a friend. The school said the friend was not an Oregon booster or an agent.

The allegations surfaced in a story by the Willamette Week, a weekly newspaper distributed in Portland, Ore.

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