The Board of Regents' Fact-Free Response

The Regents' response bases Leach's dismissal on two factors:

1.  (Leach's) "poor judgement regarding the mistreatment of an injured player;" and

2.  "(H)is unwillingness to work with the University leadership that led to Coach Leach’s suspension"

Regarding point 1, the Regents' judgement is not based on substantive evidence.

Regarding point 2, although Leach might have been considered to be uncooperative, the Regents fail to explain why Leach’s immediate suspension and sudden termination were appropriate remedies.

There are numerous statements in the Regent’s response that deserve further scrutiny.

1)  "It is apparent that Coach Leach’s dislike for the student athlete and his family was the impetus for his misconduct."

This statement is purely conjecture.

It is close to inconceivable that Leach's personal animus toward James or the James family was the basis for any of the alleged actions towards James.  This assertion is preposterous on its face.

Further, the statement presumes Leach's misconduct, when a close reading of the affidavits and the science of treating minor concussions suggests otherwise. 

(For those of you who are new to this argument or have already presumed Leach’s guilt, I suggest you read the trainer's affidavit. It is quite clear that the trainer takes responsibility for deciding to place the player in a medicine/athletic training shed and later in the media room ).

2) "Even if Coach Leach had no personal bias toward the player, the brain concussion was not treated in the same manner as that of other players with similar injuries."

Following on the heels of the previous conjecture - having placed the nugget of Leach's alleged motive in the reader's mind - the Regents go on to:

a)     Overstate the player’s injury.  Degree matters here.  How one treats a player with a minor concussion is far different than how one treats a player with a much more severe concussion.  The Regents blur this distinction.   Cancer might be cancer.  But a minor melanoma is different than Stage III pancreatic cancer.

b)    Claim that James’ treatment was different than that of other similarly injured players.  Again this is a subjective interpretation.  First of all, there is no agreed upon set of treatments for a minor concussion by medical professionals.  There are 16 different recommended guidelines.  NCAA guidelines regarding the treatment of minor concussions are likewise vague.  When one looks at the commonly suggested practices for treatment of minor concussions, James’ treatment was consistent with those practices:

a.     James was not permitted to participate in practice. 

b.    He was instructed to rest until his symptoms were cleared.  

c.     For patients suffering from light sensitivity, as James was, the suggested treatment is to avoid sunlight.  

        Leach’s trainer accordingly kept James out of the light. 

d.    Finally, James was monitored by a trainer during his time at practic.

The only difference in James’ treatment might be based on where the trainer opted to treat him.  We already know that the medicine/ athletic training shed near the practice field is utilized by players seeking minor medical assistance. 

We have also learned that some players suffering from a mild concussion occassionally rest in the Media room. 

Other players with mild concussions rest in the training facility and I suspect there might be other places as well. 

Nevertheless, the decision to place the player in whichever of these settings was made by the trainer.  Not Leach. 

Further, as Leach has stated about James' whereabouts, "one place is as good as the next," and to this extent Leach is correct.  At no time was James’ well-being at risk.

3)  " Furthermore, the head trainer and team physician considered such treatment to be unwarranted and objectionable, contrary to statements made by Coach Leach that he had the player’s best interest in mind."

The Regents’ statement mischaracterizes the trainer’s affidavit. 

According to the trainer’s own statement, it was the trainer – not Leach  - who selected the facilities in which to place James.  The trainer monitored James in both instances in question.  If the trainer felt the actions toward the player were unwarranted and objectionable, then he could only be criticizing his own decisions.  Perhaps in hindsight, the trainer felt that he had overzealously interpreted Leach’s instructions. Still, it was the trainer who administered James’ treatment. Not Leach.  By extension, any criticism from Dr. Phy would necessarily apply to the trainer’s actions and not to Leach.

 

4)  "(Coach Leach’s) profane and defiant refusal to recognize and resolve the issue led to his suspension and ultimate dismissal. It would have been unconscionable to ignore such behavior from anyone representing the University."

This is an incredibly disingenuous statement coming from a Board of Regents and Administration which tolerated Bobby Knight’s outrageous behavior throughout his six year tenure at Tech.   Unconscionable? Profane? Really?

I

 do concede that it is probable that Leach was unwilling to respond to this matter in a manner considered appropriate to the Regents and Administration.  However, even if you accept this point, terminating Leach's seems a disproportionate response.

There is no explanation as to why an immediate suspension was warranted.  There is no explanation as to why his immediate dismissal was paramount.  By continuing to allow Coach Leach to handle his duties, the school was not placing itself at any further risk.

What the statement does not explain is why the Regents did not provide Leach with due process.

What the statement does not explain is why this matter could not have been postponed until after the season.

Without the benefit of affording Leach due process, it is not possible to conclude that the decision to terminate Leach with immediate effect was warranted or even necessary.

While I do not seek to impugn the integrity of Mssrs Scovell, Anders and Turner, their statement is far from convincing.

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