Mike Leach

What was the Accusation?

As the NCAA Division I-A bowl season was underway in late December 2009, college football was shocked by the administration’s decision at Texas Tech University to suspend their successful coach due to allegations of mistreating one of his players, Adam James, who claimed to have a concussion. Players reported numerous instances where Leach criticized James for being lazy, and that Leach viewed the concussion as an excuse to simply avoid strenuous practice workouts.  Head coach Mike Leach denied the allegations of abuse, and insinuated that the player was retaliating for his lack of playing time and Leach’s unorthodox coaching practices that were used to push players to peak performance. Leach filed an injunction against the University in the hopes that he would be reinstated in time to coach his team at the Alamo Bowl on New Year’s Day.  Just hours before the court hearing to determine whether Leach would coach his team in the Alamo Bowl, Texas Tech terminated their relationship with Leach citing his refusal to apologize for his actions and change his coaching strategies. Since that time, Leach has maintained his position that his actions were appropriate, and that the suspension and termination were the result of collusion among campus administration and trustees to terminate his contract without cause.  An athletic trainer for the football program reported that Leach had forced him to place James in the shed as punishment for his unwillingness to practice.  Leach was reported to have told James that he would be removed from the team if he left the shed before the end of practice. Assistant Coach Lincoln Riley noted in a letter to the administration prior to the suspension that “Two practices before Adam James claimed he had a concussion; Coach Leach and I were forced to discipline him for poor effort, which was something that had become a common theme about Adam’s work ethic and attitude during his entire career.”

Key Apologia Strategies:

Denial, Attacking the Accuser, Bolstering





Evans, T., & Thamel, P. (2010, January 1). Leach denies he mistreated player. New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/01/sports/ncaafootball/01leach.html

Muth, D. (2009, December 30). Daddy’s little girl: Adam James and the Mike Leach firing. The Bleacher Report. Retrieved from: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/316733-daddys-little-girl-adam-james-and-the-mike-leach-suspension

Schlabach, M. (2010, January 2). Trainer says James was monitored. ESPN. Retrieved from: http://www.espn.com/college-football/news/story?id=4787194

Stein, K. A., Barton, M. H., & Turman, P. D. (2013). In the dark at Texas Tech: News coverage involving the image repair discourse of Mike Leach and Adam James.  In J. R. Blaney, L. R. Lippert, & J. S. Smith (Eds.) Repairing the athlete’s image (pp. 203-222): Lanham, MD: Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield).

Tinley, S. (2011, July 12). Mike Leach: My biggest regret was not cutting Adam James. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from: https://www.si.com/more-sports/2011/07/12/leach-bookexcerpt