Mike Leach’s application for a temporary restraining order to permit him to coach Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl on January 2 was mooted when Tech fired him on December 30. Allegedly, the timing of the firing was based on Leach’s contract that entitled him to $800,000 on December 31. Tech went on to beat Michigan State 41-31. Tech now begins the search for a new coach and Leach’s lawyer has promised a lawsuit.
Even without the firing, Leach faced an uphill battle. As discussed here previously, an applicant for a TRO must establish there is no adequate remedy at law and imminent harm, among other things. Leach sought to prevent Tech from suspending him from coaching the football team because he essentially was deprived of due process. The Petition provided:
8. Mike Leach seeks that this Court enter an order restraining Texas Tech University from suspending Mike Leach from coaching the football team.
9. It is probable Mike Leach will recover from Defendant after trial on the merits because Mike Leach has not committed any wrongdoing, he has not been informed of any rules or standards he violated, and his contract does not provide for suspension even if Defendant had shown a violation of a rule or standard, which it has not.
10. If Mike Leach’s application is not granted, harm is imminent because Mike Leach will be unable to coach his football team in practice prior to the Alamo Bowl and during the Alamo Bowl.
The claimed basis for the firing of Leach stems from his treatment of sophomore Wide Receiver Adam James following a concussion. James’ is the son of former SMU player and television analyst Craig James. Leach reportedly had James confined to a shed as described in the affidavit of a Tech football trainer:
I walked Adam to the room, which was at least as big as a two-car garage . . .Inside the room there is an electrical closet. I looked in the closet and stated that there was ‘no way that Adam would be placed in there.’ I shut the door to the electrical closet, and it was never opened again. At no time during this practice was Adam ever placed in the electrical closet.
Regardless of what actually occurred, it seems unlikely a Texas court would have ordered Tech to permit Leach to coach in the Alamo Bowl. Leach’s claim that he would suffer imminent harm because he could not coach is unpersuasive. An employer generally has the right to restrict or modify the duties of an employee, as Tech did with Leach. In response to the TRO application, Tech took the decision away from the Court and fired Leach.
The Leach/Tech battle is a long way from over. With a significant amount of money at stake, Leach, a lawyer himself, will continue his legal fight. Stay tuned.