Leach vs. Texas Tech: Per LAJ's Matthew McGowan, news broke yesterday that 99th District Court Judge Jim Sowder ruled for former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach on just one of eleven issues (but it was a big one), which was whether or not the university could claim the defense of sovereign immunity when Texas Tech terminated Leach and as a result, violated his contract. Also exempt from the lawsuit as a result of Sowder's ruling are University President Guy Bailey, Chancellor Kent Hance, Athletic Director Gerald Myers, and University attorney Charlotte Bingham (I'm assuming that she is the attorney referred to in the article). Judge Sowder did not rule on whether or not Board of Regent members Larry Anders and Jerry Turner could be sued individually.
It's standard after this sort of ruling for both sides to claim victory and that was the case yesterday, although there was a bit of information that I found interesting, which was that Leach attorney Ted Liggett claims that Leach is owed about $1.6 million in 2009 salary and bonuses. More on that in a moment.
In any event, Liggett claimed victory:
"While Mike is very happy that he will now have the opportunity to present his case to a jury, he recognizes that the last six months have been very distressful for the students, alumni, and Texas Tech family," they say in the statement. "Now that an independent judge has ruled on the threshold issue of sovereign immunity, we hope that Texas Tech will take this opportunity to objectively re-evaluate its position."
And Texas Tech attorney Dicky Grigg also claimed victory:
"Only Mike Leach would claim victory after losing on 10 of 11 issues," Grigg wrote in a statement. "The judge ruled in favor of Texas Tech on all claims except one. The judge’s action today means that only one of the 11 issues before him can potentially go to court. We continue to maintain that this case has no merit legally or factually. The fact is Mike Leach mistreated an injured student athlete."
This is standard, but the ugly truth for Texas Tech is that if you would have asked them which one of the 11 counts in which Leach sued the University that they couldn't afford to lose, it would have been the sovereign immunity defense that they lost yesterday. As it's already been mentioned, this will be appealed, but this was a huge hurdle for Leach's case moving forward.
Show Me the Money: Regarding the salary that is apparently owed to Leach, FWST's Dwain Price filed an open records request and apparently Texas Tech did not pay Leach approximately $1.6 million in guaranteed outside income. My first thought is that this is a really bad precedent for the University to take and I hope that current head coach Tommy Tuberville is getting his money up front. It would be a shame to coach an entire year and not get paid what you're apparently owed. Here's Price on the situation as well as a response from Texas Tech:
The Star-Telegram filed an open records request regarding the contract and was subsequently told he received his $300,000 base salary, plus $100,000 in bonuses for the conference wins, bowl appearance, Top 25 ranking and graduation rate. The school's response indicated Leach wasn't entitled to the $1.6 million in guaranteed outside athletics-related personal income after he was fired in the aftermath of the Adam James situation.
"Mike Leach has been paid what he is owed by Texas Tech," the school responded in an e-mail. "His mistreatment of an injured student-athlete was a breach of his contract and ultimately resulted in Mike Leach's termination. When he breached his contract, he no longer was entitled to further compensation."
I think the University is wrong here, even if you disagree with Leach's treatment of Lacey James, he earned 11/12ths of his salary and outside income.
Conference Realignment: Since the Big 12 athletic directors are meeting this week, there's a ton of news stories regarding whether or not certain institutions will be staying on board in the Big 12 or looking elsewhere. CJOnline's Austin Meek had this on what Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe is looking from each university:
The weeklong meeting isn't likely to produce many answers to the questions facing the Big 12. Beebe wants to know who's in and who's out, but he recognizes he can't compel schools to decide immediately.
"I want to talk frankly about whether there's a date that our institutions can commit to the conference so we know who's on board," Beebe said. "I would want that date to be as of the close of the meeting. I don't know if that's realistic."
Beebe expects to have an answer by the time the Big 12 begins its next round of TV negotiations in April 2011. The Big 12's contract with Fox Sports Net expires after next season, and the league is working to position itself for the contract talks.
"As we get into negotiations, I think it's going to be clear who our members are and who we represent," Beebe said.
Lincoln Star Journal's Brian Christopherson agrees that it's April of 2011 that's the important date:
But on Tuesday it seemed that the plane wouldn’t be taking off until maybe next April. It’s April when the conference starts negotiating a new television contract with Fox Sports Net. That could provide a deadline of sorts as Beebe tries to figure out if any schools are leaving the Big 12.
“I need to know what apples are in the cart when I go to market and I think we’ll have that by the time we start negotiations, not just by the time we finish it,” he said.
In the meantime, Beebe is selling the future of the conference to its current institutions as best he can.
Beebe was upbeat about what the new TV deal might produce for Big 12 schools. He noted how encouraged he was by a recent deal the Atlantic Coast Conference reached with ESPN (reported to be worth $1.86 billion over the course of 12 years) despite the rough economic times.
This make sense to me. The ACC gets a TV deal worth $1.86 billion and does anyone thing that the Big 12, even without a television deal, isn't going to get an incredibly sweet deal in 2011. Is all of this conference realignment talk, more or less about, the fact that the Big 12 television deal expires at the right time?
Also from the Lincoln Star Journal, Steven M. Sipple, wonders about something that's been rolling around in my head for quite some time, but just never put down:
He fights an uphill battle against legislation he had nothing to do with creating. For instance, Missouri complains about the Big 12’s revenue-sharing formula, in which half the money is split evenly and the other half is awarded based on TV appearances. The formula was adopted when the Big 12 was formed in the mid-1990s. Is the Big 12 supposed to renege on the deal now?
I think the folks over at BC mentioned this some time ago, at the time of this agreement, so many moons ago, any of the Big 12 universities could have rejected this deal, but they didn't. Now that some of these universities have a bit of leverage, things and comments are changing, but until the current deal expires, everyone is stuck with what was agreed upon by the Big 12 athletic directors.
Miscellaneous: There's not much out there in terms of news, and have just a handful of links that you might find interesting. The Big 12 announced selected television broadcasts, although there's no new news for Texas Tech as the two games on television thus far are SMU and Texas . . . if you don't know what "oversigning" in college football is, then go take a look at Oversigning.com. I think you could probably waste a good part of your day here . . . Phil Steele has the percentage of tackles returning for 2010 and Texas Tech sits at #45 . . . NewsOK's Barry Tramel ranks all 96 Big 12 games. I can't imagine doing this, but it's interesting.