Leach, Tech reach five-year agreement

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Texas Tech and coach Mike Leach agreed Thursday on a new contract after months of contentious negotiations.

Leach signed the contract shortly after he and Kent Hance, the university's chancellor, met for about two hours Thursday afternoon to hammer out an agreement. Hance said the negotiating part lasted only about 15 minutes.

"Me and my family are thrilled to death that we're going to be in Lubbock for another five years," Leach said at an evening news conference. "I appreciate Chancellor Hance and Gerald [Myers'] efforts to allow us to stay here and the opportunity to be here to coach the Red Raiders for many years to come."

Weeks ago, Leach and Tech essentially settled on the financial terms of a five-year, $12.7 million deal. But Leach took issue with several clauses the school added when the sides were trading proposals. The provision that bothered Leach the most would have triggered his firing and a $1.5 million penalty if he interviewed for another job without getting permission from Myers, the athletic director. Leach's existing contract had no such restriction.

He was prepared to keep coaching under the remaining two years of a five-year, $10 million contract.

In the new contract that keeps Leach at Tech through 2013, Leach needs only to notify Myers in writing to interview at another school.

The contract also includes a $250,000 bonus if Leach and Tech win the national championship, a $75,000 bonus if Tech participates in a BCS bowl and a $50,000 bonus if Leach is picked as national coach of the year

If Tech terminates the contract, the school must pay Leach $400,000 for each year remaining on the agreement. And there is no buyout amount.

Hance said he is confident Leach will stick around for many years.

"We'll just make that zero on the buyout," Hance said, recalling his conversation with Leach earlier in the day. "I know he's not leaving."

Myers said he has always wanted Leach to be Tech's coach.

"I think that got lost with all the rhetoric and speculation," Myers said. "To put it mildly this has been a tough negotiation, and it's good to get it behind us."

On Tuesday, the school's board of regents scheduled a special meeting hours before a second deadline passed without Leach accepting Tech's "last and final" offer. The board planned to meet Friday but that meeting was canceled once the deal was sealed.

The meeting was to have been in private to discuss Leach's status, but the coach requested a public hearing late Wednesday. Under state law, the board had to grant his request. Leach then met with Hance to discuss his contract.

The termination clause that led to the stalemate had been added after Leach flew to Seattle to interview for the Washington job in December. Myers wrote to Leach's agents that he didn't want the coach interviewing elsewhere, then returning to Lubbock without commenting to reporters. He said he didn't want to unreasonably withhold permission for Leach to talk to other schools, just that he wanted to know when Leach was doing it.

In their ninth season under Leach, the Red Raiders reached unprecedented heights in 2008. They went 10-0 for the first time and beat top-ranked Texas to secure the highest ranking in school history at No. 2. Texas Tech was knocked out of BCS contention with a blowout loss to Oklahoma, then fell to Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl to finish 11-2.

Public opinion seemed to favor Leach as the drama unfolded. A few dozen supporters rallied on his behalf Tuesday, the day before a Texas Tech alumnus and another fan took out a full-page ad in the Lubbock newspaper blasting the Texas Tech administration for its stance.

Leach was never fazed by the hoopla, even when it was suggested that Friday's planned board meeting could lead to his firing.

Architect of the nation's most prolific offense the past decade, Leach is 76-39 and has taken Texas Tech to a bowl game every season. He's six victories shy of Spike Dykes' school record of 82.