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Texas Tech: McNeill has a shot to replace Leach

Photo by Eric Gay

Photo by Eric Gay

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers said Monday that interim coach Ruffin McNeill will be strongly considered for the permanent job.

McNeill took over after Texas Tech suspended Mike Leach indefinitely on Dec. 28 while it investigated Adam James' allegations of mistreatment after he got a concussion. Leach was fired two days later, and McNeill led the Red Raiders to a 41-31 win over Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl on Saturday.

McNeill, 51, met informally with university president Guy Bailey on Monday.

"He's going to have strong consideration, no doubt about that," Myers said.

McNeill came to Tech with Leach in 2000. He was elevated to defensive coordinator in 2007.

Myers said he has started the search and doesn't have a big list of candidates. He could have a pick by the end of the week.

Myers declined to identify any candidates outside the program who could be interviewed in the next couple of days.

Leach has denied he mistreated James, son of former NFL player and ESPN analyst Craig James.

The sophomore alleges the coach twice ordered him to stand while confined to small, dark places after the player was diagnosed with a concussion.

Leach also claims he was fired for financial reasons. He was in the first season of a five-year, $12.7 million contract.

Leach was fired with cause, which means the university does not have to pay him any of the money remaining in his contract, or the $800,000 he was due to receive Dec. 31 if he was still coaching Tech.

Leach's attorney has said he plans to file a lawsuit against the school.

The investigation into Adam James' allegations is ongoing, school officials said.