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ESPN Gets the Leach Affidavit Story Wrong - Again

 (hat tipTech92, I am bringing this up to the front page, so more people can follow this discussion and try to halt any swing of public opinion in its tracks. Hope you don’t mind)

See the following links for the recent affidavits submitted by team physician, Dr. Michael Phy, and team trainer, Mr. Steve Pincock

When read carefully, the affidavits are inconclusive.

Pincock's Affidavit

In statement 6, Pincock reveals that as the licensed trainer, he is the one – not Leach – who elected to place James in the ‘shed’ which he himself describes as a medicine/athletic training shed.

Pincock, the licensed trainer, notes he then advises Leach of James' location. According to Pincock, Leach claims that he was was fine with Pincock's decision.

In other words, Leach accepted the decision of the licensed trainer. At no point does Pincock in his statement say that Leach instructed him to place James in a shed (one medicine/athletic training shed at that).

Later in statement 7, Pincock says that he apologized to James for putting James in the medicine/athletic training shed claiming that Leach had instructed him to do so. However, this assertion contradicts the previous statement 6 in which Pincock states that it was Pincock himself who decided where to place James- not Leach.

In statement 8, Pincock asserts that Leach instructs him to place James in the medicine/athletic training shed again during the following practice session – the same facility that Pincock had previously recommended to Leach. On this occassion, Pincock and his assistant decided to place James in the Media Room. Having made the decision to place James in the Media room, Pincock, the licensed trainer, advised Leach of James’ new whereabouts and Leach accepted Pincock’s decision. At no point does Pincock assert that Leach specifically advised him to place James in the Media Room.

Pincock’s statements in section 11 are a non-sequitor. Although Pincock is not aware that a player with a mild concussion has ever been placed in the medical/athletic shed or the media room, the statement itself does not necessarily imply that the decisions – effectively Pincock’s decisions – were medically harmful, the standard  mentioned by Dr. Phy in his affidavit.

Dr Phy's Affidavit

Dr. Phy’s statements presume that Leach was responsible for selecting the facilities in which James was placed. As we see from Pincock’s statements, Leach was not responsible for making the decision to place James in either the shed or the media room. It was Pincock, the licensed trainer, who ultimately decided to place James in the ‘shed’ and later in the media room.  Dr. Phy's criticisms, if valid, would necessarily apply to the trainer's decisions and  treatment of James. 

Dr Phy  states that in his "medical opinion there was no medical reason to require James to stand in an enclosed dark space for up to three hours. In spite of the fact that James may not have been harmed by these actions, I consider the actions inappropriate. . . "

Phy does not say that Pincock's treatment was medically injurious to the player. Inappropriateness is a much lower standard of criticism and is not equivalent to ‘placing the player at further risk of injury’ as stated in Leach’s termination letter.  Phy does not specifically  say that James’  treatment  placed the player at further risk of injury.  He says that the actions were inappropriate.  This is a huge difference, and the language is important.

National media, if you are reading this thread (this means you Mr. Dodd at CBS and any employee at ESPN who wishes to come out the winner in this embarrassment to your network), please read these statements carefully and consult with an attorney for their opinions. 

My advice to ESPN is to act responsibly and issue a statement to the effect that

Given ESPN’s representative Craig James’s direct involvement in the matter of Coach Mike Leach’s termination from Texas Tech University, we will not be making any further comments as this is an ongoing legal matter. For those viewers who are disappointed in our coverage of this matter, what can we say? Mea culpa. We’re not the National Enquirer after all. We could only dream of having that kind of journalistic integrity."

To refute ESPN, these statements, when carefully analyzed, do not necessarily contradict Mike Leach’s statements.

 Updated January 7, 2010


 - Sequence of affidavit summaries reversed.  Minor grammar changes, etc.