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Texas Tech fires Leach over treatment of injured player

Texas Tech fired Mike Leach yesterday after the coach took the school to court to try to overturn his suspension for alleged mistreatment of an injured player.

Texas Tech fired Mike Leach yesterday after the coach took the school to court to try to overturn his suspension for alleged mistreatment of an injured player.

"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 told the Associated Press.

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.

Leach was suspended Monday after he refused to agree to guidelines for dealing with players set forth in a Dec. 23 letter.

Leach was in San Antonio with his team, which is preparing for the Alamo Bowl against Michigan State on Saturday.

He left the team's hotel while his interim replacement, defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, was holding a news conference.

Asked how he felt Texas Tech treated him the last 2 weeks, Leach responded, "I think that's apparent."

The school yesterday 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 lead his team 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 in a telephone interview.

Swindall said he thinks Leach was at times out of line in how he treated players.

"And so do most of the players," he said. "It wasn't just about Adam. It was always a negative vibe."

James is the son of former NFL player and ESPN analyst Craig James.

"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 thinks it does not owe Leach any of the remaining money left on a 5-year, $12.7 million contract he agreed to in February. According to terms of the deal, Leach was due a $800,000 bonus on Dec. 31 if he were still the head coach at Texas Tech.

Several former and current Texas Tech players and coaches defended Leach and harshly criticized Adam James' work ethic in e-mails obtained by Former wide receiver Eric Morris wrote that James was "never known as a hard worker."


* Miami running back Graig Cooper could miss all of next season because of a severe right knee injury, suffered on the slippery turf during the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla., the Associated Press reported. He led the Hurricanes (9-4) with 695 yards rushing this season.

In bowl games:

* Holiday Bowl: At San Diego, Zac Lee threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Niles Paul in the third quarter to highlight No. 20 Nebraska's 33-0 rout against No. 22 Arizona, the first shutout in the game's 32-year history. Nebraska (10-4) got its first 10-win season since 2003.

* Humanitarian Bowl: At Boise, Idaho, Max Komar made a sliding 16-yard touchdown catch with 4 seconds left and Nathan Enderle passed to Preston Davis for the two-point conversion, lifting Idaho (8-5), 43-42, over Bowling Green (7-6). De'Maundray Woolridge led the Vandals with 126 yards rushing on 22 carries. *