LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - A freshman lawmaker suggested Wednesday that a fellow Texas House member stood to benefit financially by proposing legislation that would allow fired Texas Tech coach Mike Leach to sue the state, before apologizing hours later.
Rep. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, told KFYO-AM of Lubbock that Rep. Craig Eiland's reason's for filing the bill last week "must be financial."
He told The Associated Press later Wednesday that the remark was "one of those on-the-fly comments" and that he had apologized to Eiland, who sits behind him in the House chamber.
"I apologized if there was any misunderstanding," Perry said. "It was not mean-spirited and not intended to be." The resolution filed March 11 would allow Leach's wrongfuldismissal lawsuit against the school to proceed. In the radio interview, Perry said he doesn't think the bill will pass.
Perry admitted he'd made a "freshman mistake," said Eiland, who accepted that that's what the comment was. He said he gained nothing by filing the bill.
"I have no financial interest, I don't want a financial interest, don't need a financial interest," Eiland said. "He's got good lawyers. He doesn't need me." Eiland filed the proposal on the last possible day that House rules allow for the introduction of new legislation. The resolution would allow Leach's wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the school to proceed.
The school fired Leach Dec. 30, 2009, two days after he was suspended amid allegations that he mistreated a player with a concussion. Leach has denied mistreating Adam James, the son of ESPN analyst Craig James, and has said he suspects the real reason he was fired was because he was due to be paid an $800,000 bonus the next day.
Leach's lawsuit against Texas Tech was thrown out when theuniversity claimed immunity as a state institution, a decision upheld in January by the state's 7th Court of Appeals. The appeals court ruling allows Leach to try to show Texas Tech's reasons for firing him were wrong, but without the prospect of winning monetary relief.
Leach has appealed that decision to the Texas Supreme Court, but the Legislature could also specifically authorize Leach to sue for damages. Eiland, in an e-mail, wrote that permissions to sue the state are filed each session.
"Since a permission to sue is potentially Coach Leach's only avenue to have a court review his contract claim, I felt it important to at least give him a shot," Eiland wrote.