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Mike Leach, Texas Tech at impasse over contract extension

Contract extension negotiations between Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach’s agents and the university have remained stalled after almost a yearlong dialogue and recently took a turn for the worse.

Tech athletic director Gerald Myers offered Leach a five-year, $12.1 million contract Dec. 5 that would have extended his current deal to 2013.

Since then, Tech has increased the offer to $12.7 million over five years, and given Leach a deadline of Feb. 17 to accept the deal. But Leach’s agents at International Marketing Group aren’t pleased with a few details, according to 92 pages of e-mails and letters between the two parties obtained through an open records request.

“Certain additional elements of the contract that were introduced at the 12th hour were unacceptable and don’t appear in any other contract for any other coach in the country,” said Gary O’Hagan, one of Leach’s IMG representatives, in a phone interview Friday. “The financial terms are flattering and are very generous. Money is not an issue.”

Leach, who is under contract through 2010, led Tech to an 11-2 record last season and a share of the Big 12 South title. Leach, however, hasn’t been directly involved in any of the negotiations.

Leach’s agents, O’Hagan and Matt Baldwin, called Tech’s $12.7 million offer over five years “acceptable” in a Jan. 28 letter from Baldwin to Myers. But Baldwin goes on to explain IMG’s four sticking points:

  • Leach’s existing contract guaranteed he would be paid $3.6 million of the base $9 million, about 40 percent, if he were terminated early by the university without cause. Tech’s new contract proposal only guaranteed $1.5 million, about 13.5 percent, of the base $11.1 million offer.
  • Leach’s current contract has a buyout of $500,000, a 7-to-1 ratio compared to his guaranteed money for early departure. Tech’s new proposal calls for a $1.5 million buyout, the same as his guaranteed payment if he were fired.
  • Leach’s existing contract doesn’t penalize or restrict him from discussing another job opportunity. Tech’s new offer dictates that Leach would have to be granted permission by Myers before talking to others about employment opportunities, and if he didn’t abide by those rules, he could be terminated for cause.
  • Leach’s current contract allows him to control his own personal property rights, such as speaking engagements and TV and radio commercials, etc.
  • Tech’s new proposal calls for the university to “acquire coach’s rights for outside athletics related income,” taking control from him and allowing Tech to maximize its income.

    The negotiations between IMG and Tech often have been contentious.

    Baldwin upset Tech officials Jan. 15 by sending an e-mail to most of Tech’s Board of Regents concerning Leach’s contract negotiations without copying Myers, Tech chancellor Kent Hance or Tech president Guy Bailey.

    In Myers’ Jan. 26 e-mail, he called Baldwin’s e-mail to the regents “wrong” and “insubordination.”

    Baldwin responded Jan. 28 in an e-mail that said, in part, “Just to be clear, in order to be insubordinate, you first need to be subordinate. IMG is retained by Coach, not by Texas Tech: and thus IMG cannot be insubordinate to Texas Tech.”

    Myers said in a phone interview Friday that Tech’s last offer remains firm. Myers wouldn’t specify what would happen if an agreement isn’t reached by Feb. 17, but added “it pretty well explains itself.”