The newest addition to Texas Tech’s football training staff has infuriated former coach Mike Leach’s lawyers and reinvigorated their claims the university had ulterior motives when it fired him in December.
Leach’s newest attack on the university came on the heels of the university’s announcement it would hire Arnold Gamber as the football program’s new head trainer.
Gamber, who served as Auburn University’s head trainer under coach Tommy Tuberville for nearly a decade, is entangled in his own legal battle against former Auburn lineman Chaz Ramsey.
Ramsey claims Gamber subjected him to a harmful weight-lifting routine in June 2008 before he could completely heal from back surgery.
Last summer, months after a second surgery permanently sidelined him, Ramsey sued Gamber in an Alabama federal court. Also named as a defendant in the suit is Hugh Nall, who at the time was Auburn’s offensive line coach,
Ramsey says Gamber and Nall ignored doctors’ orders and cost him a chance in the NFL.
Now, seven months after it fired Leach for mistreating a player, Tech has hired Gamber and stoked Leach’s ire.
“This really crystallizes the hypocrisy in Texas Tech’s position,” Leach attorney Ted Liggett said.
Tech immediately fired back Friday and stood behind Tuberville’s confidence — as he expressed Wednesday in the university’s announcement of the hire — that Gamber “puts (players’) safety and well being above all.”
Athletic Director Gerald Myers said his staff knew of the lawsuit and made a full inquiry into Gamber’s background before hiring him.
They contacted Auburn’s team physician, the Alabama Athletic Trainers’ Association and a number of other references.
“They all confirmed that Arnold is one of the top football trainers in the country,” Myers said. “The information we got, we felt comfortable in naming him as our trainer for football.”
But Liggett said hiring Gamber undermines Tech’s own statements about the importance of players’ safety, which it repeatedly invoked after firing Leach in late December for ordering a player to stand in a dark shed while suffering from a concussion.
“Certainly, one can taste the irony,” Liggett said. “If they’re so concerned about the safety of student athletes, why hire the only head football trainer in the United States of America that stands accused in federal court of injuring a student athlete? We believe that it’s hypocritical, at best.”
Dicky Grigg, an attorney for Tech, referred to this newest uproar as “another desperate attempt” by Liggett to distract attention from “his own client’s poor decisions.”
“What we all know from the last several months is the simple fact that the filing of a lawsuit does not mean a case has any merit,” Grigg said.
Leach’s own case against Tech, meanwhile, is now headed to a state appellate court in Amarillo after District Judge Bill Sowder dismissed 10 of Leach’s 11 original accusations — including fraud, conspiracy and slander.
Sowder’s rulings, if upheld on appeal, whittled the suit down to a question of whether Tech violated Leach’s contract.
Unless the two sides can agree on an out-of-court settlement, the case could eventually come to a jury trial — where Ramsey’s case against Gamber is scheduled to land in February.
Steve Heninger, Ramsey’s attorney, said he heard about Gamber’s move to Tech two weeks ago while collecting sworn testimony from him for the upcoming trial.
“As a sports fan, I was surprised a university that took the action it did against Mike Leach would do this,” Heninger said. “It seems inconsistent to me.”
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