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Will Mike Leach Have The Last Bitter Laugh?
Will Mike Leach Have The Last Bitter Laugh?  | Mike Leach, Seventh Court of Appeals, sovereign immunity, budget crisis, Jim Pitts, Sefrenia Thompson, attorney general,

Mike Leach

Texas Business reports:  In the wake of the Seventh Court of Appeals ruling that Mike Leach cannot sue Texas Tech because of sovereign immunity, the chair of the state’s appropriations committee asked the Texas Attorney General’s office whether the state can appropriate Texas Tech’s money generated from private sources, such as television football agreements, for the state budget.   

State representative Jim Pitts asked for an opinion whether the money from private sources used to pay the former Texas Tech coach are public monies, and if so, can the state take that money the ongoing budget crisis.  He was joined in the request by state representative Senfronia Thompson, chair of the local and consent calendars committee of the legislature.

“Recently; a public university in the  State of  Texas has asserted the defense of  sovereign immunity in an employment contract dispute,” they wrote.

A large majority of  the funds in Leach’s employment contract were derived from purely private sources, the two pointed out.  “These sources are carefully detailed as part of the compensation sections of  the employment contract.”  

Leach’s claim was denied by the Seventh Court of Appeals of Texas. The appellate court ruled that a state institution is immune from suit for a breach of  contract unless the defense is waived by the Legislature. 

While Leach is pursuing a legislative solution as directed by the Seventh Court of  Appeals and Chapt er  107 of  the Civil Practices and Remedies Code., the state representatives see that ruling as potentially making the funds subject to helping with the state budget crisis.

Pitts and Thompson posed the following question:  If  a public university in a contract dispute invokes sovereign immunity, would monies  generated from purely private sources by that public university's athletic department ,  including gifts, endowments, alumni and athletic supporter  contributions, gate receipts from regular and post season athletic events, television revenues and shoe, apparel, or equipment  revenue be  considered subject to state appropriation authority as provided by the Texas Constitution?”  

An Attorney General Opinion is a written interpretation of existing law. The Attorney General writes opinions as part of his responsibility to act as legal counsel for the State of Texas.  Attorney General Opinions clarify the meaning of existing laws. They do not address matters of fact, and they are neither legislative nor judicial in nature. That is to say, they cannot create new provisions in the law or correct unintended, undesirable effects of the law. Opinions interpret legal issues that are ambiguous, obscure, or otherwise unclear. Attorney General Opinions do not reflect the AG's opinion in the ordinary sense of expressing his personal views. Nor does he in any way "rule" on what the law should say.