Washington State football coach Mike Leach has escalated his feud with Texas Tech after hiring an investigator to dig up information about school officials, including phone records of the Tech board of regents.
Dolcefino Consulting, a firm in Houston, is working on behalf of Leach to help pressure Tech into paying him the money he says he’s still owed for the 2009 football season — about $2.5 million. Leach remains Tech’s winningest coach but was fired after the 2009 season, when the Red Raiders finished 9-4.
The firm is led by Wayne Dolcefino, a former investigative reporter for a TV station in Houston.
“We’re going to get into their stuff, OK?” Dolcefino told USA TODAY Sports Monday.
Dolcefino said it’s time for “hardball” with Tech. That includes making public-records requests that seek evidence of waste, fraud and abuse.
“If they want to be weasels and not pay the guy, then they won’t pay him,” Dolcefino said. “But we’re going to look under every nook and cranny. We’re starting with phone records.”
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Dolcefino declined to say what Leach is paying him but noted his firm charges up to $275 per hour. He’s set up a website, paycoachleach.com, that asks viewers to sign a petition supporting the cause. Dolcefino also held a press conference Saturday in Lubbock outside of Tech’s football stadium.
Tech declined comment Monday on Leach’s recent salvo but previously noted the courts have ruled against him on the matter. Tech also has asserted that it paid Leach what he was owed according to his contract.
Leach coached at Tech for 10 years and now is in his sixth year at WSU, where’s he’s led the Cougars to a 7-1 record and a No. 16 ranking in the Amway Coaches Poll.
Leach said in a text message Monday that he is seeking information on where the money went, details on how he was fired and more.
"Also, what other corruption exists there that contributes to Tech cheating people out of money?" Leach said.
The feud stems from December 2009, when Tech fired Leach for legal cause, saying he mistreated a Tech player, Adam James, who was suffering from a concussion. Leach disputed this, sued the university and later obtained records and deposition testimony from witnesses to shed light on what happened and support his case.
But he never got his day in court to air it out. His case was thrown out after Tech claimed sovereign immunity as a state institution, which protected it from being successfully sued for damages.
With no further legal recourse, Leach is hoping to compel Tech to pay him through other means. He has used his Twitter account and other forums this year to wage his campaign against sovereign immunity and Tech. Now this.
"It is indisputable that they owe the money, whether the state of Texas will let them snake out of it or not," Leach said in a text message. "How many other people has Tech cheated over the years? By exposing these abuses of power, maybe we can get the sovereign immunity law in Texas changed and me and others can get paid."
The petition to pay him at Change.org had nearly 1,000 supporters as of Monday evening.
“This is a simple deal,” Dolcefino said. “They owe him the money. Everybody who does business with Texas Tech should worry that if Texas Tech decides they don’t want to pay, they just won’t pay. We’re going to stay around as long as Mike wants us to, and the only way they make us go away from our investigation is to work it out and pay him.”
Last week, Leach said certain Tech officials were “outright crooks.” He has said his beef is with them, and not Tech fans or the people of Lubbock. “Texas Tech is a fantastic place with fantastic people, with a few notable exceptions,” he told USA TODAY Sports earlier this year.
Leach’s 2009 contract with Tech says that if he were fired “for cause,” then the university’s “sole obligation” is to pay him his base pay of $300,000 and other performance incentives. Leach says that cause wasn’t proven in court and was false.
Leach says he received the $300,000 in base pay but not the $1.6 million he was owed in “guaranteed” income, or the $800,000 retention bonus that was due to him if he was the school’s coach on Dec. 31, 2009. Tech fired him a day earlier, but Leach says that bonus was “six years in the making” and due that year.
Leach spoke to USA TODAY Sports earlier this year about why he won't let up on this cause.