James, an ESPN analyst, threatened to sue the university if it didn't investigate Leach's treatment of his son, Adam, who was recovering from a concussion.
This according to a memo by Texas Tech attorney Ronny Wall, who wrote that on Dec. 20, James "indicated that litigation could ensue if TTU did not proceed to investigate Leach for the improper treatment of an injured student-athlete."
"The threat did not appear to be an idle threat as the parent expressed genuine concern for the health and well-being of his injured child, as well as other student-athletes."
Wall's memo was obtained by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in response to an open records request.
Scott McLaughlin, a spokesman for James, said no threat of legal action was made at any point.
"Craig James never threatened to sue Texas Tech University," he said. "Further, Texas Tech initiated its investigation of its own accord."
Other documents appear to back up the university. Ted Liggett, who is Leach's lead attorney, contacted Tech administrators on Dec. 21 and informed them that he would represent the coach in the event of any legal action by the university or James.
Paul Dobrowski, a Houston-based attorney also on Leach's legal team, told the Avalanche-Journal earlier this month that litigation against James is something the ousted coach "will have to consider."
ESPN has been criticized for its "dark and odd" stance in the controversy. Joe Cutbirth, an assistant professor of journalism at the University of British Columbia, wrote in the Huffington Post that the "network owes its viewers, Tech and frankly the journalism profession a look at its own ethical guidelines. It also has to stop stonewalling new questions about Craig James' actions with flip denials from a corporate spokesman."
Cutbirth added that if "allegations Leach made [Dec. 31] to the New York Times prove true, Craig James should face disciplinary action and possibly lose his job."
In that interview, Leach said he felt James tried to leverage his position as an ESPN analyst to get more playing time for his son. He said James frequently attended practices and called assistant coaches.
"I think he used his position at ESPN to try to coerce me into allowing Adam to play more," Leach said.