Craig James Made Conflicting Sworn Statements Regarding Mike Leach
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Jan. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — On December 12, 2011, Craig James signed a sworn Petition concerned with two books that recount the firing of Texas Tech coach, Mike Leach, in December 2009 regarding events between Leach and James’ son (Adam James) who was a football player on that team at the time. This latest sworn Petition states that James was not responsible for Leach’s firing. These sworn statements are in stark conflict with the sworn testimony taken earlier by depositions of Craig James, Adam James and Texas Tech officials which state that Craig James was working for ESPN and had a powerful platform and the Texas Tech President and the Athletic Director wanted to give Leach a private reprimand and a fine but James wanted an apology and Leach fired.
Craig James signed a sworn Petition that was filed in the District Court of Collin County, Texas on December 12, 2011. This sworn Petition is aimed towards pursuing claims that James says involve published statements which have been unflattering and false. The Petition is concerned with two books that recount the firing of Texas Tech coach, Mike Leach, in December 2009 regarding events between Leach and James’ son (Adam James) who was a football player on that team at the time.
This sworn Petition states that Adam James had suffered a concussion and was punished/mistreated by Coach Leach by being confined to a dark shed on one day and a media room/ electrical closet two days later. The specific, sworn statements made by Craig James that are of serious question are as follows:
“… Leach ordered the punitive actions, not for medical reasons, but to discipline and punish Adam James for ‘his attitude’ while he was diagnosed with a concussion.”
(Paragraph 17 of Petition.)
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“The authors create and foster a false impression in their books, and in public media surrounding the books, that Craig James was responsible for Leach’s firing by the University.”
(Paragraph 21 of Petition.)
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“… the allegation that Craig James interfered with Leach’s contract, by threatening TTU and its officials with litigation if Texas Tech did not terminate Leach, is illogical on its face. . .It is ludicrous and factually untrue to state that Craig James was the cause of the firing.”
(Paragraph 22 of Petition.)
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“… Leach was not going to be terminated if he simply apologized for placing Adam James in the dark shed and media room.”
(Paragraph 23 of Petition.)
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“When Adam James was placed in the dark media room on December 19th, he used his cell phone to videotape the electrical closet as being part of his area of confinement.”
(Paragraph 25 of Petition.)
These sworn statements are in stark conflict with the sworn testimony taken earlier by depositions of Craig James, Adam James and Texas Tech officials. Charlotte Bingham is an attorney and was the Vice-Chancellor at Texas Tech who conducted the official investigation into these matters within two days of a report by Craig James. Craig James had called the Chairman of the Board of Regents on December 19, 2009 and reported that his son had been shut in a dark shed one day and an electrical closet another day while being forced to stand for three hours. James admits he told Anders that his son was confined to an electrical closet for three hours. (Deposition of Craig James at p. 16.) He also sent an email to Anders and other officials on December 26, 2009, recommending that the Board members stand in a dark shed and an electrical closet for three hours: “Wanting them to experience what Adam had to experience.” (Deposition of Craig James at p. 14-15.) The Chairman of the Board of Regents testified about Craig James’ pursuit of this matter very simply: “He wanted an apology and he wanted Coach Leach fired.” (Deposition of Larry Anders at p. 87.) Chancellor, Kent Hance, testified to the same thing – Craig James wanted two things: an apology and Coach Leach fired. (Deposition of Kent Hance at p. 145.)
Deposition testimony has firmly established that Craig James did threaten Texas Tech with litigation and this pressure was taken very seriously. The Chairman of the Board of Regents testified:
“We took the threat that Craig James would go public with this matter very, very seriously. He had threatened that in his phone call to me on the 19th of December, that he was going to go public with this matter.”
(Deposition of Larry Anders at p. 64.) Texas Tech took the threat seriously “Because of his stature as a – - as a media figure, the – - the platform he had. . .” (Deposition of Larry Anders at p. 64-65.) When Charlotte Bingham (Vice-Chancellor) began her official investigation the day after Craig James called the Chairman of the Board of Regents, she interviewed Craig James. Ms. Bingham testified that James threatened her that he would bring in a team of lawyers “and that would be a can of worms and it would not be pretty.” Ms. Bingham said this was a threat to sue Texas Tech. (Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 74.)
“Q. You took that as a threat?
A. Yes, I did.
A. A threat of litigation.”
(Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 74.) She even informed Leach’s attorney, Ted Liggett, that the University was getting “outside pressure” from Craig James. (Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 208.) Another Board member, Jerry Turner, testified that Craig James was demanding Leach be fired and that he was influenced by James’ threat. (Deposition of Jerry Turner at p. 127, 139.) The University had wanted to suspend Leach and impose a fine but Craig James pushed against that. (Deposition of Jerry Turner at p. 138, 153.) Mr. Turner went on to testify:
“Q. My question to you is did you believe the James family was putting outside pressure on the administration or the Board of Regents?
(Deposition of Jerry Turner at p. 160.) Indeed, Craig James testified that he told the Texas Tech officials he wanted Leach fired. (Deposition of Craig James at p. 13.)
The video of the electrical closet and the reporting by ESPN that Adam James had been confined there for several hours was scripted drama and not fact. Charlotte Bingham, the official investigator spoke with Adam James. He told her he was only in the electrical closet for five minutes:
“Q. And it says here that Adam James told you that he was in the electrical closet for five minutes, right?
A. That’s correct.”
(Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 80.) Indeed the trainer who took Adam James to the media room specifically told Adam James he did not want him in the electrical closet. (Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 80-81.) Yet Adam went in there on his own.
“Adam James told me that he went into the electrical closet and that he stood in the electrical closet for approximately five minutes.” (Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 83.) Therefore, she reported back to Texas Tech officials that “Adam was not confined in the electrical closet.” (Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 195-196.) The President’s Chief of Staff, Grace Hernandez, also investigated these allegations and said Adam “never had to stand in electrical closet.” (Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 150.) Ms. Bingham never recommended dismissal of Coach Leach. (Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 46.)
When Adam James was confronted with the statements of the trainer that he had been told not to go into the electrical closet he admitted he could not say that was not true. (Deposition of Adam James at p. 135.)
“Q. So we can establish that it’s true. No one told you to go into the electrical closet, right?
A. Those exact words were not said.”
(Deposition of Adam James at p. 113.) When asked if he would admit that no one told him to go into the electrical closet, Adam James testified:
“Yes, but I also admit that nobody said, Adam James, stay in the media room.”
(Deposition of Adam James at p. 113.) He went in by himself and he came out by himself. (Deposition of Adam James at p. 142.) He testified that he made the video to show his friends. (Deposition of Adam James at p. 121.) Craig James authorized Spaeth Communications to release the video publicly “so this was going to help support Adam’s claim” and to make sure people believed Adam had been confined to an electrical closet. (Deposition of Craig James at p. 50-51.) The video release also stated that Adam had been confined there for “several hours.” (Deposition of Craig James at p. 56.) Yet, even James had to admit this was not true when he wrote his email to Texas Tech officials it had been three hours.
“Q. When you wrote this email of 12/26 you did not believe Adam had been confined to the electrical closet for a total of three hours, fair?
(Deposition of Craig James at p. 24.)
Craig James was working for ESPN and had a powerful platform. His son had been demoted due to disciplinary problems and tearing down a door at a coach’s office just weeks before. Coach Leach told Charlotte Bingham that Craig James had tried to run the team and influence Adam’s playing time and he was not going to allow it. (Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 69, 123, 136.) Leach was not punishing Adam for the concussion, he just did not want him at practice doing nothing while everybody else was working and preparing for a bowl game. (Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 246.) He actually felt he was treating Adam better than other injured players. (Deposition of Charlotte Bingham at p. 135.)
Indeed, Chancellor Hance testified that when Adam James broke the coach’s door and yelled “F… this,” “He should have been kicked off the team.” (Deposition of Kent Hance at p. 239.) Chancellor Hance said Adam should have been kicked off the team a long time ago. (Deposition of Kent Hance at p. 241.) “Mike should have dismissed him from the team earlier.” (Deposition of Kent Hance at p. 185.) The Athletic Director agreed that good coaching requires that you assure that the team is not distracted by one player – you have to remove the distraction. (Deposition of Gerald Myers at p. 151-152.)
Everyone has agreed that Adam James suffered no harm which was confirmed by the team physician, Dr. Phy. (Deposition of University President, Guy Bailey, at p. 89-90; 99.) There was no evidence that Leach was pressuring Dr. Phy (team physician) to clear players to play or practice with injuries. (Deposition of Guy Bailey at p. 105.) The President and the Athletic Director were not looking to terminate Coach Leach over this. (Deposition of Guy Bailey at p. 159-160; Deposition of Gerald Myers at p. 90.) However, the University knew Craig James was with ESPN and had the ability to make all of this an immediate, national story. (Deposition of Gerald Myers at p. 34.) The self-created video and the scrolls on ESPN of being confined to the electrical closet several hours confirmed that concern and fiction was reported as fact.
Adam James testified that he thought being put in the dark shed on the first day “was funny.” (Deposition of Adam James at p. 86.) “Being in the shed was not causing me any medical harm.” (Deposition of Adam James at p. 84.) “I wasn’t in medical jeopardy.” (Deposition of Adam James at p. 84.) He was also asked about the media room:
“Q. Were you hurt? Were you in any worse condition than you were before?”
A. No sir.”
(Deposition of Adam James at p. 144-145.) His father even admitted that there had not been the requirement that Adams stand for three hours. “He told me he had sat down. He had gone to the bathroom. He told me he had laid down and felt bad.” (Deposition of Craig James at p. 35-36.) Chancellor Hance heard that he had sat and napped as well. (Deposition of Kent Hance at p. 36.)
The President and the Athletic Director wanted to give Leach a private reprimand and a fine but James wanted an apology and Leach fired. (Deposition of Larry Anders at p. 78, 87.) Tech officials felt that time was not their friend because of the threat from Craig James. (Deposition of Larry Anders at p. 120.) Therefore, they acted quickly. When Leach refused to sign a letter that said he acted wrongly (which was insufficient for Craig James) he told the Board he would file for an injunction if they terminated him. A memo went out from the Board:
“We concurred in advance with the decision to fire Leach if he sought to proceed with his suit against the University.”
(Deposition of Kent Hance at p. 67.) Leach believed he had done nothing wrong. (Deposition of Kent Hance at p. 89-92.) However, the pressure of Craig James and his use of ESPN was too much. In fact, Chancellor Hance later went on ESPN and said that Leach “acknowledged he had Adam James locked up.” At his deposition, the Chancellor admitted “The statement is inaccurate.” (Deposition of Kent Hance at p. 106, 108.) When Craig James couldn’t interfere with the playing time of his son, he got his retribution by interfering with Coach Leach’s employment. This time he won because of his agency and platform with ESPN.
Mike Leach has recently retained Stephen D. Heninger of the law firm of Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama to represent him as lead counsel in his litigation with ESPN and Craig James along with attorney Ted Liggett in Lubbock, Texas. The civil actions against ESPN, James and Spaeth Communication have been stayed until the issue of the sovereign immunity of Texas Tech is resolved by the Texas Supreme Court.
Heninger Garrison Davis
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SOURCE Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC