Universities sometimes forget, in thinking about the benefits of big time sports, this one: Guaranteed permanent employment of a large, high-profile legal staff.

The bigger your athletic program, the more likely it is that, like Texas Tech, you’re currently being sued for tens of millions of dollars in a case followed by the national press.

It’s all about coaches. Lots of coaches are fine and upstanding. But if you keep hiring new ones long enough, you’re almost certainly going to end up with a drunk, a sadist, a loser, a guy who doesn’t know how to cheat without getting caught, or a quitter.

The quitter’s always leaving for a job that pays more. The sadist wallops his players real bad. The drunk gets caught plastered inside his Porsche. Even though you give the loser most of your endowment, he can’t win a game. And you know you’ve hit the bottom of the coaching barrel when the guy can’t even cheat like all the other coaches without getting caught. Only a death wish can explain that.

So all these guys sue, see. Or you sue them. I mentioned Texas Tech. A judge just ruled that TTU’s latest legal desperation move ain’t gonna work:

A judge says former football coach Mike Leach’s lawsuit over his firing from Texas Tech can move forward.

State District Judge William C. Sowder on Tuesday struck down the university’s claim of sovereign immunity from the lawsuit’s breach of conduct claim.

… The university fired Leach on Dec. 30, two days after it suspended him amid allegations he mistreated a player with a concussion.

… [Adam] James has said his coach twice ordered him to stand for hours while confined in a dark place during practice.

But here’s one other thing to keep in mind about big time university sports and constant expensive high-profile litigation: Fans love it. It’s an expected accompaniment to the story on the field, another game to follow. You gotta pay to play.

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6 Responses to “Cost of doing business.”

  1. Bill Gleason Says:

    At our place, we’ve just taken a 1.25 million dollar hit (+ expenses) for, let’s say, some serious errors in judgment. This involved a job offer to a potential assistant coach that fell through. UD has cryptically posted earlier on this.

    Point: some university expenses, including in the Athletic Department, are the result of bad advice on the part of the General Counsel. If the U had settled this one early, it would have cost a lot less. Rather than giving the client – the university – the best advice, the GC wants to litigate, litigate, litigate. The U’s yearly legal bills are in the five million plus region.

    Sometimes this strategy works, especially when the other side has to pay for their own legal bills, at least until they win.

    And so it goes.

  2. theprofessor Says:

    Texas Tech is going to lose this one. Look for a quiet settlement before this goes to trial.

  3. david foster Says:

    I wonder if the normal ongoing costs of support by the university’s legal staff, not to mention outside counsel costs and settlement/judgment costs, are factored in when these places calculate the “profitability” of their athletics programs. I suspect that very often, they are not. And as a veteran of many cost-accounting wars, I bet there are other cross-subsidies that are being ignored.

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