In response to a one of our new members.
First of all, some rules for the road going forward. We expect all members to conform to these.
Where to begin?
In Defense of the Members
We have members who are students, retirees, lawyers, doctors, academics, educators, engineers, business people – about every walk of life that you can imagine.
We even have a vocal contingent of contributors who never went to Tech, but have been attracted to Texas Tech football, Mike Leach and the controversy surrounding his firing. Everybody brings their own unique perspective to the table.
For the most part, the members of this forum have only one thing in common, which is their love for Texas Tech sports. Beyond that I doubt we could get five members here to share the same view on anything. That’s what makes this blog so great.
This diversity of viewpoints applies to whichever issue you might choose to look at:
Mike Leach’s Firing : We’ve got people here who think Leach was wronged. We’ve got other people here who think Leach brought it on himself. We’ve got others who think both sides are to blame. We’ve got people who want answers. We’ve got others who are just ready to move on.
Tuberville: We’ve got people who think Tubbs is the second coming. We’ve got people who aren’t buying his spread offense experience.
Quarterbacks: Potts. Sticks. Potts. Sticks.
Hopefully, you get the idea.
So before we move on, please show the members of this forum proper respect they deserve. We all choose to spend our time here, which means we could be doing something else (and probably ought to be).
Nobody’s forcing you to be here.
(Regular readers are familiar with my arguments, so I’ll apologize now for going over old ground.)
When I first heard about Leach’s firing, like most people, I couldn’t believe it. I read and heard what everyone else did. Leach mistreated a player with a concussion. Leach was insubordinate. Hance tried to save the day. Leach was suspended. Leach tried to sue the university. Leach was gone. Case closed.
Sounded like a pretty damning story. Except that it was apparent early on that things were not as clearcut as they first seemed.
Above of all, for me, I was most surprised to see how quickly Leach’s firing took place.
As the events have unfolded and more information has come to light, what was presented by the Administration as a black and white issue was becoming distinctly gray (or even brown depending on your perspective).
The ESPN Interview, and BOR Emails
I watched the full 36 minute ESPN video with Leach. Leach gave a clear account of his version of events. Those statements contradicted the Administration’s version and James' assertions.
I read Leach’s New York Times interview which also described the events differently from the administration’s depictions.
I read the emails released by the Dallas Morning News between Hance and
then (former) Chairman of the Board of Regents, Jim Sowell. The emails did not paint a pretty picture. The way I read it, the BOR did not seem to be negotiating in good faith. I was also taken aback by how unprofessional the discussion seemed to be taking place. The negotiations seemed far more personal than they needed to be.
The seeds of doubt were sown. I wanted to find out whose account of the incident was correct. Was it the Administration’s? Was it Leach’s?
So I did what I try to do in my business life, which is to ask lots of questions, focus on the facts, and put together evidence which either supports or refutes my initial assumptions. As those facts have come to light, the case against Leach begins to look a lot less conclusive than as it was originally presented.
The first thing I did was read up on the science of concussions, particularly mild concussions. (these are my stories, and the idea is that you link to the research within the stories. Feel free to find your own information.)
What struck me about that research was that when it comes to treating mild concussions (calling a concussion a mild concussion is not trivializing it, that’s what it is called), there is very little agreement among the medical and scientific community about how to manage mild concussions due mainly to lack of sufficient evidence (in fact there are at least 16 different guidelines). I solicited my brother in law’s opinion who is a maxillofacial surgeon, and whose job is to repair the faces and skulls of soldiers who were injured in Afghanistan - usually by improvised explosive devices. He concurred with the literature. He also told me the lack of data on mild concussions is not exactly news.
When I read the scientific literature and the NCAA guidelines on concussions and marry those discussions with James’ treatment, I believe James received the appropriate care. More to the point, he didn’t appear to be treated inappropriately.
The second thing I did was to focus on the affidavits. When you read the trainer’s statements, the trainer makes it very clear that he elected to place James into what he describes as the medicine/athletic training shed. He placed James in a dark place, because James claimed to be suffering from light sensitivity. When you suffer from light sensitivity as a symptom of a concussion, the recommended treatment is apparently to rest in a dark place. The facility in question is as large as a single-car garage where other athletes come to receive minor medical care.
The trainer also states very clearly that in the second instance, he elected to place the player in the media room, where other players have also been sent during practice. In both instances the player was monitored by a trainer. The trainer also said that he apologized to the player, which might be the case, but he also speaks about how he had to keep the player from misbehaving while the player was in the trainer’s care.
The doctor’s statements are ambiguous. On the one hand, the doctor says that the treatment did not place the player in any danger. On the other hand, he says the treatment was inappropriate.
The affidavits did not specifically point out any wrongdoing by Leach, other than indicating Leach using profanity toward James. In the world of college football, especially in Texas, that’s ‘dog bites man’ stuff.
My conclusion here is that a) there is very little agreement on the treatment of mild concussions among the medical and scientific community, b) James was treated in accordance to NCAA guidelines – which are themselves vague, c) even if you accept the physician’s statements as gospel superseding all other scientific discussion on the planet, his criticisms would necessarily apply to the trainer’s actions and not to Leach.
I’ve heard from a lot of people that this is a case about the money. Being a finance guy, I checked the numbers, and determined that the school’s football program was more than capable of absorbing Leach’s contract. Further, I found that Leach’s contract demands were in line with the market. Leach’s termination was not about the money either. Those findings made me wonder why Leach’s contract negotiations turned into such a big deal in the first place.
Board of Regents Statement
Next, the Board of Regents released a statement which categorically states the rationale for Leach’s dismissal. According to the Board of Regents, Leach is let go because of his alleged mistreatment of a concussed player and because of Leach’s subsequent insubordination. If the Board’s statement about Leach’s alleged mistreatment of a concussed player is not supported by the facts, how could one maintain that the BOR was credible in it characterizations of Leach’s alleged insubordination as well?
Leach is reputed have issues with the Administration, but didn’t Bobby Knight have issues as well? It is well known that Knight chased the school’s president out of a cafeteria and had to be restrained by Myers in a public setting. I am from Lubbock. I heard the eye witness accounts. (For the record, I am a huge Bobby Knight fan. I thought, however, that his actions were completely ridiculous. Who acts like that at his age?)
Nevertheless, despite Knight’s outlandish behavior, things with Knight were smoothed over, he was allowed to continue coaching and matters were handled in-house
However, in Leach’s case - where we are working with a very ambiguous set of facts at best - Leach was shown the door 11 days after allegations were first raised. Why? Why the different treatment? Why the haste?
Absence of Due Process
If the Administration in fact has such a good case, then providing Leach due process and duly proving its case is the best way to justify its position. Giving Leach due process would also have been the best way to dampen what surely was going to be a huge outcry given his popularity and success.
That didn’t happen here. And that’s why people are upset. The decision not to grant Leach due process by a handful of people is a huge lapse in judgement.
If one believes Leach has committed a wrong doing, fine. Prove it. Whatever your politics, we Americans and Red Raiders believe wholeheartedly in justice. We will and do accept the outcome of a fair process.
The recent actions at University of South Florida are a great case in point. The coach struck a player. A proper investigation was conducted. The coach was terminated. There are no Team Leavitt websites. No one is calling for the Board’s or the Administration’s head at South Florida.
You state that if this set of circumstances had arisen in your business or with one of your employees, you would have handled the matter even more aggressively than the Administration. Here, your premise is wrong. Texas Tech is not your company, or Hance’s for that matter. Texas Tech is a state institution. Dealing with employees is subject to a set of rules put in place to avoid capricious behavior by management. How an owner or CEO conducts him/herself in a private company and a how one conducts oneself in a public institution are not analogous.
The Hance Interview
Hance conducts an interview with Lubbock Avalanche Journal describing the time line of events.
Rather than clarifying events, Hance’s statements created an enormous amount of doubt in my mind, which I highlight in my post (I hope he and his lawyers are smart enough to refrain from making any further public statements going forward).
It is Hance’s description of the timeline which I find to be ludicrous. The administration takes two days’worth of statements. According to Hance, based on these statements , some of the Board members suggest Leach’s termination. According to Leach, Hance wanted Leach to pay a $100,000 fine and issue an apology. Based on what? That is not due process by any reasonable standard. That is ridiculous.
If an employer's opening gambit is to accuse an employee of wrongdoing without offering benefit of the doubt, how can the employee be expected to believe that his employer is acting in good faith?
The Administration and others have claimed that there are other issues that which factored into this discussion. Why haven’t those issues surfaced? Those issues are not stated in his termination notice. There is no past record of mistreatment of players. There’s nothing substantive. The Regent’s statement do not allude to any other issue. What credibility would the Administration have if it drags skeletons out of the closet at this stage anyway?
I hate to focus on the letter (dated December 23rd, presented December 26th)so much, because it is such a sideshow. However, Hance and Myers both point to Leach’s failure to sign the letter as evidence of his insubordination.
This is a Hance quote, "Leach met with Myers and Bailey, who asked him to sign a letter apologizing for his treatment of James."
Here's another,"They gave him about 48 hours to sign the letter."
Like the concussion matter, the Administration’s depiction of events do not stand up to further scrutiny.
The letter Leach was asked to sign is not an apology letter. Hance misrepresented the letter in his statement.
The Letter's contents were completely inappropriate. No reasonable person would have signed it as drafted, and in the process incriminated oneself.
You note that Leach should have at least signed something to show that he is a compassionate person. Well, if Leach doesn’t feel he’s done anything wrong, and the facts support him, why should he sign anything? Why should anyone? This is America for God’s sake.
I urge you to read Leach’s third filing. He clearly states that he was asked to sign the letter by Myers and Bailey. According to Leach’s statement, he pointed out to Tech officials that he has a contract and that the contract supersedes all other agreements. As such, it is not necessary to sign any letter. He then states that Tech’s counsel, Myers and Bailey concur that Leach does not have to sign any such letter.
Two days later, according to Hance, Leach is suspended.
Suspended for what?
In Leach’s statement, Myers explains that Leach is suspended for not signing the letter (which the Administration now construes to be an act of insubordination) and for allegations of player mistreatment.
Based on both sides' account, there are only two conclusions you draw about the letter, neither which makes sense.
Based on both sides' account, there are only two conclusions you draw about the letter, neither which makes sense.
Suspension and Termination
If you believe Hance is correct and Leach had 48 hours to sign a letter of apology, where is the letter? The letter presented was not an apology letter. If you believe that Leach didn't have to sign any letter, then how do you reconcile Hance's 48 hour comment, Hance's representation of the letter as an apology letter, and Leach's failure to sign the letter as being evidence of his insubordination?
If you believe Hance is correct and Leach had 48 hours to sign a letter of apology, where is the letter? The letter presented was not an apology letter.
If you believe that Leach didn't have to sign any letter, then how do you reconcile Hance's 48 hour comment, Hance's representation of the letter as an apology letter, and Leach's failure to sign the letter as being evidence of his insubordination?
The next day, Leach files for a temporary restraining order. Leach argues that he was seeking to overturn his suspension to allow him to continue coaching and to afford time for due process.
Tech fires Leach.
Hance then goes on to say that because Leach ‘sued Texas Tech’ he was fired. Leach claims he was fired for trying to seek legal remedy for an action which violated his contract. Leach is now arguing that firing him for seeking legal remedy was unlawful.
Leach’s lawsuit and Texas Tech’s filings are focused, not on the player’s allegation of player mistreatment (an investigation which still seems to be pending), but on breach of Leach’s contract and whether or not Leach has the right to now sue the school.
Coach Leach was our coach for 10 years. He is the most successful coach in our history. He was greatly admired by his players. He deserved far more respect. And if he really committed the egregious acts as he is accused, then the school should have acted responsibly and afforded him the due process he or any other person deserves.
That’s where the Administration screwed up.
What’s the big picture?
Why are we even here?
To give you an idea of the magnitude (translate, stupidity) of this decision, since 1980, over the past 30 years, there are only two instances in FBS (Division I) college football where a university
a) replaced a sitting coach with a record equal to or greater than Leach’s record at Texas Tech;
b) brought in a new-hire (i.e. did not promote an assistant), and
c) who were able to improve on their predecessor’s success.
Those two examples are Georgia’s hiring of Mark Richt and Ohio State’s hiring of Jim Tressell.
That sample is taken from over 350 coaching tenures from schools currently in the major BCS conferences over the past 30 years.
All the other examples failed, and did so pretty badly. (I’m writing an article on this history, so you’ll have to wait. Its sobering.) What about our circumstance makes you believe that our experiences are going be different?
Whatever Tuberville or any other coach brings to the table, that’s the historical sitatuation that our Administration has placed us in. Those are facts.
When I look at the disruption to the program, the public ridicule our University has endured, replacing a path of success for a path of historically proven failure, it makes me pause (to put it politely).
Criticism of Hance
Managing Leach’s contract negotiation should have been a walk in the park. There is a market. Prices are established. Leach’s accomplishments and value to the university are measurable. How difficult can this be?
All Hance had to do was afford Leach due process. Hance runs a public institution. There are rules governing employee conduct. Leach has a contract which governs his conduct. Why didn’t Hance follow these rules when it came to handling Leach?
How could someone with Hance’s vast experience botch such simple matters?
If Hance can’t handle something as simple as a single employee’s contract, how does he manage other issues? Am I now supposed to take it as a given that he is just super at everything else?
I am also incensed about his clumsy disregard of the interests of the students, players and alumni. Did he pause for a moment to consider anyone else’s views?
Looking for Answers
Like almost all alumni, I entrust the business of running the administration to the BOR and the Administration. I think they do a great service for the school. The only time I follow the goings on of the school is through the Alumni newsletter or if there is some kind of scandal. I presume that if the BOR thinks Hance or whoever is the best candidate as chancellor for Texas Tech, then so be it.
In my day-job, I'm an investor. I co-founded and run a fund that invests privately in companies outside of the US. So I try to bring that perspective to this matter.
When one of the companies underperforms, I look to the management to see where the problems are. If management is the problem, we change the management. For me to keep my investors happy, I can’t afford to endure sacred cows and bad decisions.
As I do in my own profession, based on a habit I developed as an avid sports fan my whole life, I look at other schools to figure out if there are better ways to run a school and to compare the qualifications of the people running them. Imitation is the best form of flattery and all of that.
As much as it pains me to say, U.T. and A&M are model institutions which have done a lot of things right. I looked at the University of Houston which is also vying for Tier 1 status. When I looked at those schools, I was struck by the fact that they are run by professionals who have been in the business of running academic institutions for a long time.
Why should we keep the same guys who got us into this mess in the first place? Given all that has gone on, maybe we would be better off with a Chancellor who has a more specific set of experiences, such as those of our competitors.
Then again, maybe not.
One of my friends in Lubbock argues that the Tech job is a unique one and you can't compare it with the other schools. He argues that we need a guy like Hance to fight our corner in Austin and raise money from big donors. That sounds like a good argument over lunch, but I’m not sure if that argument withstands serious scrutiny. How bad are things down in Austin? I can’t comment on the fund raising – other than I’m glad we’re doing it, because I haven’t seen the numbers for Tech. I haven’t seen the numbers for comparable schools.
Still, I don’t think any of these questions or comparisons are unreasonable given the fiasco which has taken place over the past weeks.
Here’s my bottom line.
If Leach truly did injure a player, and the school had proven its case unequivocally, then I am not writing a letter to you today, and instead I’m applauding my University for its handling of the matter.
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.
The Administration’s decision to deny Leach due process is the cause of the public uproar. Leach’s alleged misconduct has not been proven. Not by a long shot.
Failure to provide due process to Leach is the root cause of this public embarrassment.
At the end of the day, this isn’t story about Leach, as beloved as he is. This is a story about arrogance and the abuse of power. If something like this can happen to someone of Leach’s stature, then it can happen to anybody. That’s why people are so pissed off. They want accountability.
I’ll close with a post from one of our members whose son was one of the Tech’s key starters over the past two years (its the second time I've used it in an article). The member’s son took the long road to get to Tech, and his son left it on the field every game. They are what Texas Tech football is all about.
They say timing is everything, Craig James timed this perfectly to upset the apple cart, If my son was asked to go to the shed, he probably would refuse, but my son wouldn’t show up in sunglasses. If the Dr. said stay in a dark place that’s where you would find him. But then again my son isn’t a rock star, he wouldn’t play a game in tights and white shoes. I am positive that he has played and practiced dinged up, but he perceivered. When he was probable, against K-State, he practiced and was available for the game, the coaching staff decided to not let him play although he was ready to play. The coaching staff at Tech has the players best interest in mind, and the trainers ultimately have control of who is able to play. I have seen them take a players helmet and not allow him to participate and the player was chomping at the bit to get back in there. Those guys are true gamers, I don’t think Adam is a gamer, it showed in the spring and this season. My feelings toward Coach Leach will not waiver just because a "little league dad" thinks his boy was treated unfairly. Coach Leach has his ways, some are questionable, but he produces, and at this level you better produce, or you will be looking for a new job. Craig needs to get his own team full of Adams and see how far he gets. He has scorched the earth in his wake of disgruntlement, he could have been a bigger man and handled this like a man, but then again this is the same guy that took money and gifts while at SMU knowing full well of the legalities and the DEATH PENALTY handed down to SMU while he skated away scott free. Chickens#@#, that’s my take, just like the SMU days. This all could have waited til after the season, but he chose to crap all over my son’s final game At Texas Tech, I feel for you and your son Craig but don’t expect an apology from me either, and if I see you I will tell you so. That’s the way my DAD raised me and he never once talked to any of my coaches about how I was treated. He told me to fade my own heat and you’ll be a better man. Mike Leach is a good man, it shows in the graduation rate and in his coaching record, and when I talk to Coach Leach he talks to me like a man because he is a man. When he makes a mistake he will hone up to it, not go off whimpering to the media, NCAA, or the Administration. He isn’t perfect, but he can Coach my son anytime, anywhere. Sometimes you need to turn the other cheek, it says so in the greatest book ever written.”
With respect to the personal comments in your letter, there's a lot more I ought to say. But I’m taking our member’s advice and turning the other cheek.