LUBBOCK — A Houston-based investigative journalist is suing Texas Tech for records he believes prove the school’s 2009 firing of longtime Tech football coach Mike Leach was without cause.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in Lubbock County’s 99th District Court, Wayne Dolcefino alleges Tech officials are refusing to comply with their obligation to produce public records he sought between September and November that included emails and phone records of the Board of Regents and then-chancellor Kent Hance that would show they bowed to pressure from a former football player’s parent threat of negative publicity for alleged abuse. In December 2009, Tech officials fired Leach for his role in which a football player suffering a concussion claimed he was made to stand in a dark room during practice.
Leach’s termination came days before Tech was due to pay him $2.4 million as part of his contract with the university. He began coaching for the school in 1999.
Leach, who holds the distinction of being the winningest coach in Tech’s history, sued the university in January 2010, alleging he was fired without cause and was denied due process. However, Tech’s invocation of sovereign immunity shielded the university from paying him, according to court documents.
As he investigated Leach’s firing, Dolcefino, President of the Houston-based Dolcefino Consulting firm hired by Leach, sought records he believed would show officials did not investigate the allegations before firing Leach.
Dolcefino’s lawsuit alleges school officials provided him incomplete records, ignored some of his requests and are withholding some records while awaiting a decision by the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Of the more than 1,700 pages of documents regarding Leach’s firing, only 312 were produced, the lawsuit states.
He is also complaining that the university is billing him more than $18,000 for his requests. The cost includes a $17,000 document retrieval charge, which is reserved for documents stored offsite. However, the lawsuit states, the documents he is seeking are stored in Tech’s computer systems.
Dolcefino is asking the court to rule the records he is seeking are public and free from exemptions.
Tech officials in a statement described Dolcefino’s lawsuit as “baseless.”
“Texas Tech University has fully complied with the Texas Public Information Act regarding Mr. Dolcefino’s numerous requests for information,” said university spokesman Chris Cook in an emailed statement provided Monday.
“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.”
Source : http://amarillo.com/news/sports/texas-news/2018-01-08/leach-team-files-suit-against-texas-tech-obtain-records-firing489