Rather than what will take place on the field in Memphis, the biggest storyline surrounding Tuesday’s AutoZone Liberty Bowl is Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach’s ongoing legal battle against Texas Tech.
Leading up to the game between the Bulldogs (7-5) and the Red Raiders (6-6), Leach hasn’t shied away from calling out his former employer for what he considers wrongful termination.
“In Lubbock, there were four bad apples that were determined to cheat me out of my salary,” Leach, who led Texas Tech to 10 straight bowl appearances from 2000-2009, said. “We know about that. And the other four years on my contract. And then continued to hide documents illegally. But short of that, I thought everyone (in Lubbock) was great.”
For the last 12 years, Leach has been in a legal dispute with Texas Tech after former Red Raiders tight end Adam James accused Leach and his staff of locking him in a dark room when he had a concussion.
Former ESPN commentator Craig James, Adam James’ father, made a hefty effort to get Leach fired from Texas Tech. After Leach refused to write a letter of apology to the James family, then-president Guy Bailey suspended Leach on December 28, 2009.
Leach proceeded to file a restraining order against Texas Tech. Two days later, Bailey and then-athletics director Gerald Myers fired Leach for cause, ultimately refusing to pay the remainder of his $2.6 million salary from the 2009 season.
“They still owe me for 2009, the last time they won nine games, so maybe they’ll deliver that check,” Leach said after finding out that the Red Raiders would be the Bulldogs’ postseason opponent.
The second-year Mississippi State coach, who received a law degree from Pepperdine in 1986, has also used his time with the media to clarify where the legal battle currently stands. In 2017, Leach’s representation, Wayne Dolcefino, attempted to retrieve the investigation documents from the James scandal. Texas Tech said responsive records do not exist.
Just last week, Dolcefino submitted further legal action, claiming that the university has withheld sexual assault records from the Board of Education. Leach backed that notion.
“They lied about having an investigation, and then, they won’t produce the documents to prove they had an investigation,” Leach continued. “It just goes to show you how (former chancellor) Kent Hance and some of his little cronies, how sleazy those guys are. So, let’s go ahead and see it. And of course, it’s going to illustrate that they lied to the fans and everybody else. And then, they continue to hide documents from everything from sexual assault to everything else.”
When asked how long he’ll fight Texas Tech if the university continues in its refusal to settle, Leach could have stopped his answer after the first word: “Forever.”
You can watch the entire press conference below (lawsuit talk starts around the 24:30 mark):