The suit filed Wednesday claims the network's coverage of Leach's firing last year was "willful and negligent defamation" and that it failed to "retract false and damaging statements" it made from "misinformation" James provided to ESPN.
The network, based in Bristol, Conn., did not immediately have a comment on the lawsuit filed in Texas district court.
The university fired Leach last Dec. 30, two days after suspending him amid allegations he mistreated James's son, Adam James. Leach has denied the claim.
The suit also names Spaeth Communciations as a defendant, claiming James hired the firm for "purposes of creating public opinion hostile to Leach."