Mike Leach files libel, slander suit against ESPN, PR firm

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Already in the midst of a lawsuit against his former employer, ex-Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach has set his legal sights squarely on the World Wide leader and a public relations firm infamous for the “swift boat” political ads that were used in an attempt to discredit then-presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

According to the Associated Press, Leach has filed suit against ESPN Inc. and Spaeth Communications, claiming that the two companies are guilty of libel and slander against the coach while engaging in “willful defamation” of the plaintiff.  The lawsuit stems from ESPN’s coverage of the firing of Leach, in which he was accused of mistreating Red Raiders wide receiver Adam James, son of ESPN college football analyst Craig James.

The suit alleges “ESPN published and failed to retract false and damaging statements based on information it obtained in large part from Craig James… who ESPN knew to be hostile to Leach.”

Rumors abounded back in late December, around the time of Leach’s firing, that Craig James had gone to the school’s administration and demanded Leach be fired for alleged mistreatment of his son; the elder James acknowledged that he and his wife took their complaints to the Tech administration but denied demanding Leach be fired.

In early January, shortly after his dismissal, Leach accused Craig James of “us[ing] his position at ESPN to try to coerce me into allowing Adam to play more”, and making “it clear that he had a business relationship with our chancellor or certainly was in conversation about such things.”

Per the lawsuit, the case “also concerns the false, misleading and defamatory campaign against Leach by Spaeth Communications, a public relations firm hired by Craig James for the purpose of creating public opinion hostile to Leach.”

As deftly noted by SportsByBrooks.com, Spaeth was behind the release of a cell phone video that showed Adam James “locked” in an “electrical/broom closet” while recovering from a concussion.

Leach’s lawsuit is seeking “punitive damages as allowed by law”, as well as a permanent injunction “enjoining Defendants from making statements that Plaintiff mistreated a player diagnosed with a concussion and he placed that player at risk of additional injury, and that Plaintiff Leach’s termination was solely Leach’s fault.”

We have yet to see the entire lawsuit, but there’s a part of us that is hopeful it contains a passage on a permanent injunction “enjoining Defendants from putting Craig James on my television screen during the broadcasting of a college football game or any show related to college football.  Ever.”