Texas Tech fired head football coach Mike Leach Wednesday according to reports in the Associated Press.
Leach’s attorney was notified minutes before a hearing where Leach was seeking to be reinstated for the Alamo Bowl game Saturday against Michigan State. Ruffin McNeill, the current defensive coordinator, will assume the role of interim coach for the game.
The firing comes two days after Leach was suspended in the wake of an investigation of his treatment of an injured player, Adam James son of ESPN analyst, Craig James. James alleged Leach ordered him confined to small, dark spaces while the team practiced as he was recovering from a concussion.
In an affidavit, Leach said he “would never intentionally harm or endanger a player” and that he had been “forced into this situation without being afforded any process.”
He contended “absolutely” no evidence had been given to him that showed he had violated any university rules or standards.
“I have never and would never intentionally harm or endanger a player. I am committed to Texas Tech University and the well being of my football players. I have been forced into this situation without being afforded any process,” he said. “Not being allowed to coach immediately will cause irreparable harm because preparation for the game is ongoing and it will be over on January 2, 2009. Every minute of preparation is critical to be ready for the game.”
In February, Leach agreed to a five-year, $12.7 million contract. 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.
Leach’s record at Texas Tech in his ten years was 84–43 including 10 straight bowl appearances. The 2008 regular season mark of 11-1 was a school record best.
Leach is not the first Big XII coach to be ousted amid allegations of player mistreatment. On Nov. 16, Kansas investigated Mark Mangino after some players said he was insensitive, though others defended him. Mangino resigned December 3 after reaching a settlement with the school that was later disclosed as a $3 million buyout. Mangino was replaced at Kansas by former Buffalo University head coach Turner Gill.