Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Football and Employment Law: Mike Leach and Texas Tech

New Year's Day is a great day for college football bowl games. And, of course, every day is a great day for employment law. Thankfully, Texas Tech and Mike Leach have given me an opportunity to combine the two!

If you haven't heard, Texas Tech fired head football coach Mike Leach on December 30, 2009 for allegedly shutting a player with a concussion in some kind of "shed" and then separately in an "electrical closet." This one has all kinds of drama. First, the player in question is Adam James, the son of ESPN announcer Craig James.

Then, Leach's lawyer took us on a video tour of the so-called "shed" and "electrical closet:"



Not to be outdone, Adam James has his own video, "from the closet," which has drawn comparisons to the Blair Witch Project:



Does it get any better? Actually, it does. Reports indicate that a clause in Leach's contract provided for Texas Tech to pay him $800,000 if he had been employed for just one more day.

Texas Tech originally suspended Mike Leach prior to terminating him. In response, Leach filed for a temporary injunction in an effort to coach at the Alamo Bowl on January 2nd. A copy of the Motion is available here (.pdf) (via Above the Law). Obviously, the motion is irrelevant now but it provides some insight into the future dispute. It includes a disciplinary clause from Leach's contract that will likely be at issue, as well as some arguments we're likely to hear from Leach. Specifically, that he complied with his contract and was denied due process prior to his termination.

Nothing like a media soap opera to kick off the new year! I'm looking forward to seeing how this one plays out.