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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 2, 2010

Leach: James' father a problem


Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Mike Leach

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LUBBOCK, Texas Fired Texas Tech coach Mike Leach says he did not mistreat a player after a concussion.

Leach spoke to The New York Times and ESPN about his firing. He was dismissed Wednesday, two days after his suspension.

The school was investigating his treatment of Adam James. The sophomore receiver said Leach twice confined him to a small, dark place after his concussion diagnosis. Leach told the Times on Thursday night and ESPN yesterday that James was lazy and acted as if entitled to special treatment.

James' father is ESPN analyst Craig James. Leach contends Craig James tried to leverage his position as a way to get more playing time for his son.

Text messages by The Associated Press were not immediately returned by Leach. Nor was a phone message to interim head coach Ruffin McNeill and Leach attorney Ted Liggett.

Leach told the Times he ordered that James be taken "out of the light" and did not know specifically where he went. He also said: "He was never locked anywhere. At no point was he locked anywhere."

The school fired Leach shortly before the two sides were to appear in court for a hearing on the coach's suspension. The hearing became moot once a termination letter was handed to him by an attorney with the university, Liggett said. He said a lawsuit would be forthcoming.

Texas Tech (8-4) plays Michigan State (6-6) in the Alamo Bowl today.

In interviews with the Times and ESPN, Leach described a divisive and tense relationship with Craig James, whom he said he had to deal with more than every other parent on the team combined. He said James frequently attended practices and called assistant coaches.

"I think he used his position at ESPN to try to coerce me into allowing Adam to play more," Leach told the Times. "But the thing about it is as the coach, I watch every inch of film. I'm deferring to the judgment of 12 people as we look at the film on who should play and who should play when and then we make our decision based on that. I don't feel like it's fair to the other players and I don't think it's the right way to do business to allow influence and position to dictate when you play a young man."

When Craig James was asked about those claims, he called them "absurd," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.