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Leach speaks out in his defense

Saturday, January 2, 2010; D02

College Football

Fired Leach speaks out in his own defense

Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach says he did not mistreat a player after a concussion.

Leach spoke to the New York Times and ESPN about his firing. He was dismissed Wednesday, two days after his suspension.

The school was investigating his treatment of Adam James. The sophomore wide receiver said Leach twice confined him to a small, dark place after his concussion diagnosis. Leach told the Times on Thursday night and ESPN on Friday that James was lazy and acted as if entitled to special treatment.

James's father is ESPN analyst Craig James. Leach contends Craig James tried to leverage his position as a way to get more playing time for his son.

Leach told the Times he ordered that Adam James be taken "out of the light" and did not know specifically where he went. He also said James "was never locked anywhere. At no point was he locked anywhere."

The school fired Leach shortly before the two sides were to appear in court for a hearing on the coach's suspension.

Texas Tech (8-4) plays Michigan State (6-6) in the Alamo Bowl on Saturday.

In interviews with the Times and ESPN, Leach described a divisive and tense relationship with Craig James, whom he said he had to deal with more than every other parent on the team combined. He said James frequently attended practices and called assistant coaches.

"I think he used his position at ESPN to try to coerce me into allowing Adam to play more," Leach told the Times. "I don't feel like it's fair to the other players and I don't think it's the right way to do business to allow influence and position to dictate when you play a young man."

When Craig James was asked about those claims, he called them "absurd," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Four Tennessee basketball players, including starting senior forward Tyler Smith, were charged with gun possession and other counts after a Friday traffic stop.

The Knoxville Police Department said Smith, 23, junior point guard Melvin Goins, 22, junior center Brian Williams, 22, and sophomore guard Cameron Tatum, 21, were arrested during a traffic stop for speeding near Tennessee's campus.

According to a police report, officers smelled marijuana coming from the car and found a handgun with an altered serial number, a bag of marijuana and an open container of alcohol. Tatum was driving.

Tatum was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and having an open container of alcohol. Smith was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm with an altered serial number, which is a felony. Goins and Williams both face gun and drug possession charges.

MISC.

Jockey Ramon Dominguez shattered the New York season mark for victories with 376 in 2009 and won riding titles at all three New York Racing Association tracks.

The 32-year-old Venezuelan rode five winners on two occasions, had four winners nine times and won more than 30 stakes races at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga.

Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr. had the NYRA wins record of 340, set in 1982. . . .

Rafael Nadal won and Roger Federer lost in the semifinals of the Capitala exhibition tennis tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Nadal beat David Ferrer, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, to secure a place in the final against Robin Soderling, who earlier dispatched the top-ranked Federer, 6-7 (8-6), 7-6 (7-1), 6-2, for his first victory over the Swiss in 13 matches. . . .

Portland Trail Blazers guard Steve Blake has pneumonia and is expected to remain in the hospital for several days. . . .

Thousands gathered in Buenos Aires to watch the symbolic start of the Dakar Rally, a 215-mile drive to Colon. The real racing on the 5,600-mile journey across Argentina and Chile begins on Saturday for more than 350 cars, motorbikes, quads and trucks, with the finish set for Jan. 16 back in Buenos Aires.

The rally was moved to South America in 2009 because of safety concerns in Africa.

-- From News Services

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