LUBBOCK, Texas - Texas Tech fired Mike Leach yesterday after the football coach took the school to court to try to overturn his suspension for alleged mistreatment of an injured player.
Leach, who had been preparing his team to play in Saturday's Alamo Bowl, responsed by blasting the university in a statement.
"Texas Tech's decision to deal in lies and fabricate a story which led to my firing, includes, but is not limited by, the animosity remaining from last year's contract negotiations," Leach said.
"I will not tolerate such retaliatory action; additionally, we will pursue all available legal remedies."
Leach, last year's Big Twelve coach of the year, was suspended Monday after he refused to agree to guidelines for dealing with players set forth in a Dec. 23 letter.
"I'm very sad to say there's only one person to blame for this and it's Mike Leach," Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance said.
Jerry Turner, vice chairman of the university system's board of regents, said "other things" came to light during an investigation of Leach's treatment of receiver Adam James. The sophomore alleged the coach twice confined him to a small, dark place after the player was diagnosed with a concussion.
Turner declined to elaborate about the other issues.
When Leach decided to fight the university in court "in defiance" of his suspension, that's why "we are where we are," Turner said.
Leach was in San Antonio with his team, which is preparing for the Alamo Bowl vs. Michigan State. He left the team's hotel while his interim replacement, defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, was holding a news conference.
Texas Tech's official statement said Leach's recent actions made it impossible for him to remain coach of the Red Raiders. "In a defiant act of insubordination, Coach Leach continually refused to cooperate in a meaningful way to help resolve the complaint. He also refused to obey a suspension order and instead sued Texas Tech University," the statement said.
The school gave a termination letter to Leach's attorney, Ted Liggett, minutes before the two sides were to appear in court for a hearing on the coach's request to be allowed to coach in the Alamo Bowl.
Wide receiver Tramain Swindall said he supported the decision to fire Leach.
"I do agree and I'm supporting Adam and what he's doing because it's the right thing to do," Swindall said.
Swindall said he believes Leach was at times out of line in how he treated players.
James is the son of former NFL player Craig James, an ESPN analyst.
"We appreciate that the university conducted a fair and thorough investigation," the James family said in a statement. "From the family's point of view this has always been about the safety and well-being of our son and of all the players on the team."
Tech's termination letter said Leach was fired with cause, meaning the university believes it does not owe Leach any of the remaining money left on a five-year, $12.7 million contract he agreed to in February.