Houston-based Dolcefino Consulting filed a lawsuit Monday against Texas Tech University seeking the release of records related to the firing of Mike Leach.
Leach was fired as the head football coach on December 30, 2009. The university said he mistreated player Adam James – an allegation Leach has denied. The lawsuit said Texas Tech fired Leach one day before the university was obligated to pay him $2.4 million for longevity.
Leach sued. But he lost on a legal technicality called sovereign immunity. In other words, no one can sue the government without the government’s permission and Texas Tech is a political subdivision of the State of Texas.
Dolcefino Consulting is working for Leach.
“This case is about providing public access to information to ensure accountability of our government institutions,” the lawsuit said. “This suit is to ensure that abuses of power do not go unchecked.”
“Texas Tech wants to reap the benefits of being a governmental body by hiding behind sovereign immunity so that Coach Leach cannot sue it,” the lawsuit said. “But Texas Tech also wants to avoid the obligations of being a governmental body by refusing to produce the documents that it is required by law to produce.”
The lawsuit said Texas Tech identified at least 1,785 pages, but only released 312 pages.
In one of those 312 pages, former Texas Tech Regent Jerry Turner wrote an email that seems to indicate Leach’s firing was retaliation. After his firing, Leach filed a petition in court to keep his job at least long enough to coach the Alamo Bowl.
“I hope he’s wise enough not to seek an injunction that will force his termination,” Turner wrote on the evening of December 28, 2009 at 7:37 pm in an email to Kent Hance and Larry Anders. Hance is the former Texas Tech Chancellor and Anders is a former Regent.
The lawsuit also said, “Texas Tech officials sent internal emails making it clear that the affidavits needed to be back-dated to ensure that it would not be obvious that the witnesses had been coerced into changing their statements to benefit the school.”
The lawsuit called Texas Tech’s actions a cover-up.
About two hours after the lawsuit was made publicly available, Texas Tech issued the following response:
It is unfortunate that Mr. Dolcefino has chosen to initiate baseless litigation on behalf of Mike Leach. Texas Tech University has fully complied with the Texas Public Information Act regarding Mr. Dolcefino’s numerous requests for information.
During the initial litigation in 2010, the university turned over thousands of pages of information, many of which were made public and are available to Mr. Dolcefino. Mr. Dolcefino made 25 public records requests, all of which received a response from the university. Of those requests, only five pertained to Mike Leach. The others pertain to current Texas Tech University officials and operations. We will continue to be responsive to requests as required by law.