Attorneys for former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach want a judge to reprimand the university, claiming in a court filing Thursday that the school withheld information they asked for in preparing for a lawsuit over his firing.
Leach's attorneys allege in their filing that the Lubbock school intentionally withheld an e-mail — dated the day Leach was fired — that they claim should have been turned over because it fell within the scope of numerous subpoenas to the school.
The e-mail was obtained by Leach's attorneys late Wednesday from a third party — Hunt Oil Company. Another regent works for an affiliate of the company, court documents state.
In the e-mail, former university regent Windy Sitton claimed Leach's firing had been in the works since the coach's contract negotiations in early 2009, when Sitton was still on the board.
"Everyone sees through this injustice to Mike Leach and Texas Tech," Sitton wrote in the e-mail to the board's vice chairman. "This whole thing smells."
Sitton, in an affidavit drawn up by her attorney Thursday, said her e-mail to board vice chairman Jerry Turner was "based entirely" on what Leach had told her and that she was speculating when she wrote that his firing had been in Tech's plans since his contract talks.
"I was never told by anyone in the Texas Tech administration or anyone on the Board of Regents that they wanted an excuse to fire Mike after he signed the new contract," Sitton's affidavit states. "I have no personal knowledge of the University's version of the circumstances. ... but the two contradictory versions have made me realize that I should not have formed or stated any of the opinions in my e-mail."
Turner did not immediately return a phone call to The Associated Press seeking comment Thursday.
At a hearing in January, state District Judge William C. Sowder warned Tech to comply with all requests for information from Leach's attorneys including e-mails and text messages.
Leach was fired Dec. 30, two days after being suspended following a claim from receiver Adam James' family that the coach mistreated the player after he got a concussion.
James, the son of former NFL player and ESPN analyst Craig James, has said his coach twice ordered him to stand for hours while confined in a dark place during practice.
Leach, now living in Key West, Fla., has denied mistreating Adam James and has said he suspects an $800,000 bonus he was to receive Dec. 31 was the reason he got fired when he did.
The motion for sanctions against Tech asks the judge to make the university produce all other e-mails it might have withheld, tell why it withheld Sitton's e-mail and pay Leach $2,500 in attorney fees.
University attorney Dan Perkins — responding Thursday to an e-mail from one of Leach's attorneys, Paul Dobrowski — wrote that "at no time did the school intentionally withhold any document" and that Sitton's e-mail was not provided because school officials were "unable to find any request to which it was responsive."
Leach's attorneys said Sitton's e-mail shows that Tech's conduct was "egregious." They said university officials practiced misconduct because the e-mail clearly shows they were talking about dismissing Leach months before the incident with the player.
If a state entity is shown to be acting with misconduct, it waives its right to a sovereign immunity defense, the lawyers said.
The university's lawyers claim Leach cannot sue because Texas Tech is a state entity that can only be sued with permission from the state Legislature or a waiver based on a defendant's conduct.
By Betsy Blaney, Associated Press
Source: Dallas Morning News