December 13, 2012 in City, Sports

Coaches were not abusive to players, WSU says

Report clears Leach, staff
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Leach
(Full-size photo)

PULLMAN – Following a review of the Washington State University football program, athletic director Bill Moos found “no report or detection of abuse or inappropriate behavior” by coach Mike Leach or his staff of assistants, Moos wrote in a memo made public by the university on Wednesday.

WSU President Elson Floyd requested that both the school and the Pac-12 conduct a review of the football program following allegations made on Nov. 10 by former Cougar receiver Marquess Wilson that coaches had engaged in “physical, emotional and verbal abuse.”

Wilson walked out of a Nov. 4 workout and quit the team later that week.

The Pac-12’s report is expected to be released soon. The school’s report is essentially an exoneration of WSU’s coaching staff and includes the news that Wilson softened his claims in a text message to Moos at 11:33 the night of WSU’s game against UCLA on Nov. 10.

According to documents obtained by The Spokesman-Review through a public records request, Moos forwarded to Floyd that message from Wilson via email.

At 1:57 a.m. on Nov. 11, Moos wrote to Floyd that Wilson’s message was “sent to me at 11:33. Unfortunate as our guys gave a valiant effort and deserved to be the lead story.”

The attached message reads: “Mr. Moos this is marquess … With that letter I wasn’t trying to accuse the coaches of hitting players or anything. I was just trying to put it in different terms and now everything is getting misinterpreted and I didn’t mean it like that at all … I simply was trying to get my story across and get my name cleared instead of having it say I’m suspended for breaking team violations … That could mean like I did drugs or something … I was never trying to harm the university or the program with it.”

Floyd responded to Moos’ email at 8:14 a.m. that day: “Well, the damage is done now. I must repair it and move on.”

They did so by conducting a full review of the program, which included interviews of 12 players conducted by upper-level staffers Bob Minnix and John Johnson.

The players interviewed, Moos said, represented “a real good cross section” of the WSU roster, though he declined to name them.

Moos wrote in the review that “the majority of the players stated that the player that walked out of practice let the team down and put them, their coach and WSU in a bad light.”

Moos noted in his conclusion that there are “three basic standards that are set at a high level and are not to be comprised … academics, personal behavior and maximum effort.”

The only real concern addressed by Moos in the final review was the use of a water hose by strength and conditioning staff to spray players who were working out in the sand pit.

Moos said that he learned of the spraying around midseason and put an immediate halt to it.

Emails obtained by The Spokesman-Review indicate that concerns had been raised with Moos before Wilson’s allegations were made.

In an email dated Nov. 1, a sender – whose name is redacted in the records released by WSU – claimed that in one instance, “players were made to hold 45-pound plates over their heads while coaches sprayed water in their faces with water hoses,” among a long list of other complaints.

Both Moos and Leach were asked by Floyd to respond to the sender’s concerns, according to an email sent by Floyd’s assistant later that day.

In a Nov. 7 memorandum to Floyd, Moos wrote that he had spoken with Leach and reviewed the concerns raised in a Nov. 1 “memo” – presumably the aforementioned list of concerns – and “concluded that much of what (the sender) stated was exaggerated or simply not true. There were however, a couple of concerns that did have merit and they have been addressed.”

In regard to Wilson’s initial allegations, Moos told reporters Wednesday that he found “our discipline was very consistent with other programs I’ve been involved with, and other BCS programs I have association with through their athletic directors. I didn’t get overly alarmed, but felt it was our due diligence to review this after those accusations were made.”

Leach, who is on the road recruiting, told The Spokesman-Review in a text message: “I’m pleased but not surprised. It is great to work at a university with the integrity of Washington State.”


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