Texas Tech Suspends Mike Leach
Defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill will assume the head coaching duties on an interim basis while the 8-4 Red Raiders prepare to meet Michigan State in Saturday's Alamo Bowl.
A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed that Leach is under investigation for allegedly sending a player into a darkened room after he came to practice wearing sunglasses to ease the discomfort of a recent mild concussion. It has been confirmed that the unnamed player is sophomore receiver Adam James, who has caught 17 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown this season.
James did not immediately return a phone call from FanHouse, but he did issue a statement through ESPN.
"Mr. and Mrs. James took the step with great regret and after consideration and prayer to convey to the Texas Tech Administration that their son had been subjected to actions and treatment not consistent with common sense rules for safety and health," the statement said. "The James family believes this is a matter important to protect all the fine young men involved in Tech football and the University's reputation for developing and educating young men and women.
According to sources, Leach ordered Adam James into a darkened room for a two-hour period after not believing his injury was severe. Two days later, Leach ordered the trainers to again place Adam James in the dark room and that time had all the contents removed so James would not have anywhere to sit.
Leach apparently has not denied his treatment of the player and did not follow a demand from the school to issue an apology which resulted in Monday's suspension.
In a released statement, the school said such complaints are considered serious matters and therefore have launched an investigation into the incident, effective immediately. Leach, who became Tech's winningest football coach this season, will remain under suspension until the investigation is complete.
In the statement, the school said the decision to suspend Leach was made with the consultation of the Texas Tech president, the Texas Tech University System chancellor and Board of Regents chairman and vice chairman.
The school, through spokesman Chris Cook, said no other comments would be made at this time. Neither Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers nor Leach were answering their cell phones Monday afternoon to comment.
Leach is now the second Big 12 coach to come under fire in recent weeks for alleged mistreatment of players. Former Kansas coach Mark Mangino was investigated by Kansas toward the end of the season for allegedly putting his hands on a player and also for apparent mean-spirited comments made to some of his players. Mangino resigned a few days after the season ended.
But while under investigation, Leach spoke up on Mangino's behalf.
"I think you try to select the most effective way to coach your guys, but my suspicion is, and nobody truly knows what went on in Kansas, but my suspicion is Mark is in the middle of a witch hunt, which is unjustified," Leach said a few weeks ago. "Heaven forbid somebody should ask a guy to focus and for the sake of his coaches and teammates pay attention. Well there are different ways to do that. Sometimes after you've asked them a number of times, you raise the bar.
"The interesting thing to me in all this murmuring is he went from hitting this guy in the face to he didn't even touch anybody, but he just said mean things to him. Well the mean man told some player some things he didn't want to hear. There is a mean man in Lubbock who tells people things they don't want to hear, too, and it's just part of it you know."
Craig James had been scheduled to work as an analyst for Saturday's Alamo Bowl, but he has been removed from the broadcast team after the controversy with Leach.