Amidst allegation leveled by former wide receiver Marquess Wilson that he and his teammates had been subjected to “physical, emotional and verbal abuse… in the locker room and on the field,” an internal investigation last month concluded that “there was no report or detection of abuse or inappropriate behavior on the part” of head coach Mike Leach or his Washington State staff.
That was part of a two-pronged investigation into the situation, with the Pac-12 assuming the second part of the probe. Today the conference backed up the school’s findings, although this may not be the last we hear of it.
In a release, the Pac-12 announced that, “[b]ased on the evidence developed in this investigation, there is no basis to conclude that there were any instances of physical, emotional or verbal abuse by University football coaches.” Suffice to say, the university was pleased with the report, which can be viewed in its entirety HERE.
“I am pleased with the outcome of both reviews,” WSU president Elson Floyd said in a statement. “The well-being of all WSU students is our highest priority, and it was important to take seriously allegations against the program. Now that the reviews are completed and have rejected those allegations, we will continue to move forward with our goal of establishing a successful program while maintaining the high standards shared by Washington State University, WSU Athletics and Coach Leach.”
However, based on an article published by Deadspin.com this afternoon and prior to the release of the Pac-12’s report, this situation may be far from over.
In the piece, unnamed parents of current players expressed their concern over the treatment of members of the team at the hands of Leach and the football staff, with one of them writing in an email to the university and obtained by the website that “[s]ooner or later you’re going to get sued over Leach.”
An email from Bill Drake, the school’s head athletic trainer who was removed from his day-to-day dealings with the football team by athletic director Bill Moos, expressed concern that revolved “around certain practices of the coaching staff that put the health and safety of the student athlete at risk.” Workouts used as punishments were described as “dangerously excessive.” It was during one of these “workouts” out of which Wilson walked, setting the stage for the current brouhaha.
There appears to be a disconnect between the WSU coaching staff and parents as to what exactly constitutes abuse.
“If you run players and roll them in sand till they puke, is that abuse?” one player’s parent said to Deadspin. “I don’t know. There are no rules or laws and nothing defined in any handbook that says rolling a kid in the sand until he pukes is abusive. But some people might say, ‘That seems abusive to me.”
There appears to even be a disconnect between the various parents of players on the team.
“Some said, ‘I don’t care, that’s what football is, kick my kid’s butt if you want, suck it up and get it done.’ And some parents had a different opinion and didn’t think this was reasonable. There was no consensus among parents but it was certainly talked about.”
“A lot of it has to do with how you classify abuse,” the parent said. “Obviously Marquess felt like it was bad enough for him to personally leave. I think until someone defines it, it’s really hard to term it. I think there’s a big gray area.”
Leach completed his first season in Pullman with a 3-9 record. He had been out of the game for two years following a messy departure from texas Tech, with his firing coming amidst allegations of the abuse of a player.