Posts Tagged ‘Mike Leach’
January 11th, 2010 at 3:31 pm
Tough Economy, or Time for Tort Reform in College Football?

The argument for tort reform usually goes something like this.  Doctors like to practice medicine.  In order to practice medicine they need to carry a certain amount of medical malpractice insurance to cover the costs of their mistakes.  The price of med-mal insurance has risen over the years because more doctors are getting sued. The main drivers increasing costs are juries that award huge damages amounts to patients.  The higher the cost of insurance, the more a doctor’s compensation goes to pay for the privilege of working.  Eventually, doctors will choose not to practice medicine in places that make it cost prohibitive.  Thus, the argument goes, we need tort reform to cap the amount of damages a jury can award to keep doctors’ insurance costs manageable.

Perhaps it’s time for public university administrators to get on the tort reform bandwagon.  With the recent decisions of two now former head football coaches to contest their firings in court, the state governments in Texas and Florida may want to consider the issue.  Both Mike Leach of Texas Tech and Jim Leavitt of South Florida are accused of mistreating players.  Both were fired for cause.  And both were owed in excess of $10 million on their remaining contracts because were long-tenured and quite successful.  That each has decided his best option is to litigate rather than try to land another job indicates the severity of their conduct (if true), and the unlikelihood of getting similar riches in a contracting economy.

But the fact remains that each man was a state employee when fired, and though they are alleging defamation and constitutional violations against school administrators, a future legislature could curtail their amount of recovery.  Certainly, it doesn’t benefit tax payers to foot the bill for protracted litigation that will undoubtedly raise the cost of hiring future coaches.  If disputing firings becomes a trend among coaches, legislatures and school officials may need to reconsider the value and necessity of subsidizing such a liability when higher education budgets are being slashed across the country.