‘Craig James gave Joe Schad Adam’s cell number’

The new Mike Leach book, Swing Your Sword, is out.

Mike Leach New Book: Swing Your Sword

In the book, Leach retells the events of his legally-challenged ouster at Texas Tech in late 2009 - and provides stunning new documents and details that verify a professional public relations campaign paid for and orchestrated by ESPN’s Craig James against the all-time winningest coach in Tech football history.

If you followed the story as it initially unfolded, you may be aware of at least some of the actions of Texas Tech officials during the regrettable episode. Actions that left Leach no choice but to seek legal remedy soon to culminate at the Texas Supreme Court.

If you were reading SbB at the time, it wasn’t unreasonable to suspect that Craig James and his professional public relations representative, Spaeth Communications founder Merrie Spaeth, may have had a role in shaping ESPN’s coverage of the story.

But now, thanks to Texas Tech’s status as a state-funded institution, emails obtained through open records requests by Leach and his attorneys show a concerted effort by Craig James and paid agents of the ESPN analyst to materially impact ESPN’s editorial approach to Leach’s untimely departure from Texas Tech.

Leach reports in his new book that even before a complaint against Leach was lodged by Craig James regarding the coach’s alleged mistreatment of his son - former Texas Tech football player Adam James - Craig James had hired Spaeth. (It was Spaeth who hatched the infamous Swift Boat public relations campaign that helped turn public opinion against John Kerry’s during the 2004 presidential election campaign.)

Here is one such email included in Swing Your Sword in which Spaeth Communications employee Rebecca Shaw asks Craig James in an emailif we want to forward the players’ names and numbers exclusively to [ESPN reporter] Joe [Schad].”:

From: Rebecca Shaw
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2009 11:30 PM
To: James, Craig Subject: RE: ESPN 6:29 PM

Craig - Merrie’s position - and I agree - is that the story has been put to bed tonight. Let’s take a look at the coverage first thing in the morning and make a decision then if we want to forward the players’ names and numbers exclusively to [ESPN’s] Joe [Schad], whether we want to include the AP reporter, or if we want to hold off a day to see if the university makes a statement. I’ll be up early checking the coverage. Merrie’s good with the statement that I drafted for you for ESPN. Would you like it circulated to Kevin and Jim or do you want to noodle on it awhile?

Rebecca Shaw Executive Vice President Spaeth Communications, Inc.

In addition to the emails, Leach reports in the following Swing Your Sword excerpt that Craig James went so far as to personally provide the cellphone number of his son, Adam James, to ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad: Read more…

Conflicted Court’s Tech Loyalty Trumped Leach

After digesting the 24-page opinion made Thursday by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in its ruling against Mike Leach’s wrongful termination lawsuit against Texas Tech, it’s clear the conflicted court didn’t have the stomach to rule against its beloved Texas Tech.

Tech-friendly court trumped Leach's claim

(Court that ruled against Leach schooled at Texas Tech)

All four 7th Circuit judges matriculated at Texas Tech, with one justice, Mackey Hancock, a registered donor (pdf) to the Red Raider Club. (The primary fundraising arm for Tech athletics.)

Then there’s 7th Circuit Chief Justice Brian Quinn, who authored the court’s opinion that threw out Leach’s appeal. Quinn, an adjunct Texas Tech faculty member (pdf), is a former longtime partner at the prominent Lubbock law firm, McWhorter, Cobb & Johnson. That same law firm made multiple contributions to current Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance’s past run for a Senate (pdf).

It is a widely held belief that Leach’s personality conflict with Chancellor Hance contributed to the coach’s firing.

But if the court was indeed in the bag for Tech, why was Thursday’s judgment against Leach conflicted? One only read the rhetoric employed by Chief Justice Quinn in his written opinion to recognize the acute ambiguity of the decision.

Texas Tech’s argument in its appeal was that Leach’s breach of contract claim was invalid because of the State of Texas’ “sovereign immunity” law.

In short, contractual sovereign immunity protects the state of Texas from breach of contract claims between a private party and the state. The law asserts that state institutions, like Texas Tech, cannot be sued in such cases regardless of the circumstances of an employee’s dismissal.

Yes, you read that correctly.

So in its argument to the 7th Circuit, Texas Tech claimed that a contract written and executed by Texas Tech was unenforceable. (In its ruling against Leach, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.)

Yes, you read that correctly.

Not surprisingly, in his written opinion, 7th Circuit Chief Justice Quinn was pained in the explanation of the court’s decision. Read more…