Mike Leach will not be able to seek monetary damages in his wrongful termination suit against Texas Tech after the Supreme Court of Texas denied his appeal. Leach's lawsuit has bounced around just about every level of the courts in Texas, was filed on the grounds that he was denied due process, then wrongfully terminated following allegations of a mistreatment of a player, Adam James, that Leach firmly denies.
There are some misinterpretations of the rulings and missing information floating around that needs to be cleared up. Lets quickly run down what all this means for Leach and WSU.
What does this mean?
Well, not a whole lot, actually. Leach was challenging Texas' sovereign immunity. It was his assertion that sovereign immunity would render any contract with the state -- including those with a state university -- void, since the contracts couldn't be challenged in court. An appellate court threw out the lawsuit earlier, based on sovereign immunity, and Leach was appealing that decision with the Supreme Court. Friday's ruling means he may go forward with the lawsuit -- a provision in the appellate court ruling -- but may not seek damages. He can fight for the truth, but will get no money.
Is this surprising?
No. No it is not.
Does this mean Craig James was right?
No. It also does not mean this. The ruling has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of Leach's case. The Supreme Court did not rule on the case itself, but rather whether the case could go forward of if the appellate court's ruling on sovereign immunity would be final. The latter was chosen, so Leach won't be seeing that $800,000 bonus he was owed anytime soon (actually ever).
Quite a few things, actually! Leach's lawyers can still proceed with a non-compensatory case against the state, and it seems likely they will do so. The case would be more about revealing the truth, and would serve more as a public relations thing. I mean, the lawyers are already getting paid anyway.
What about that other lawsuit?
And this is why the lawyers are being paid. Leach's second lawsuit, against ESPN, Spaeth and James, has been in limbo while the Texas courts ruled on the case against Texas Tech. Now that the ruling is out of the way, Leach's civil suit against ESPN and the gang will likely be allowed to move forward. And there's no doubt this case will be the focal point of his legal team. Without sovereign immunity to fight, it would seem Leach has a strong case here.
Is this a distraction?
No, not really. The cases have been going on for years and Leach's involvement is at a minimum level. He's already given his statements and done what he needs to do, and now it's up to his legal team. Leach is monitoring the cases for afar, but he isn't doing the day-to-day work.
Why is he doing this?
Because Leach feels he was screwed, and he probably was. From all the evidence that's been made public, Leach appears to have been railroaded and sent packing in one of the worst cases of leadership idiocy -- at all levels -- that I've seen. After being taken to the woodshed publicly early in the process, he's fighting back to clear his name. This shouldn't be surprising: He's a headstrong individual that won't go down without a fight.
Are you a lawyer?
No. I just play one on the Internet. I'm probably wrong about the legal specifics, but you get what you pay for.
When does spring football start?
Soon. Then we can get back to the on-field stuff.