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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mike Leach says recent fight unlikely to result in WSU football dismissals

Washington State coach Mike Leach speaks at the Pac-12 NCAA college football media day in Los Angeles on July 14. On Tuesday, Leach accused the media and the local police of unfairly targeting WSU football players. (Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

Washington State coach Mike Leach said on Friday that is unlikely a recent fight that reportedly involved football players will result in anybody being kicked off the team.

The fight occurred early in the morning on July 23 and left two students hospitalized. Cellphone video of the fight showed a large skirmish that appeared to involve many people besides the football players.

Pullman police acknowledged that it will be difficult to identify individuals involved in the fight or discern their role because of the number of participants and the fact alcohol was clearly involved. However, police confirmed that members of the WSU football team were being questioned as part of a larger investigation into the fight.

While any players involved may have avoided dismissal, the repercussions of the event were felt teamwide. Leach said while he feels the environment of underage drinking that was created is the larger issue, he is disappointed his players were not smart enough to leave the situation.

A football coach’s disappointment quickly turns into exhaustion for his players.

“Monday, our running session, we had the whole team do particular maneuvers to illustrate the fact that we don’t get involved in fights and we leave when the first one happens, and we don’t care who does any of that,” Leach said. “And so does that mean Monday’s workout was over? No, Monday’s workout was not over. Monday’s workout was made up on Wednesday, which is typically an off day, but there was no off day because we had to waste our time addressing this stupid fight.”

Leach acknowledged that the fight and subsequent investigation had been an unwelcome distraction for the team, which holds its first practice of the season on Saturday in Lewiston. The investigation appears to be ongoing and Leach said that he and his coaching staff will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement, noting that his program’s disciplinary track record is “pretty well-documented.”

While the Cougars rarely acknowledge player dismissals, a number of players, including starters, have left the program shortly after having legal troubles in the past. Leach has a policy of automatic dismissal for players who use drugs, steal or physically abuse women.

Leach did take issue with the initial reports of the story, calling them “ridiculously inaccurate reflections of the event that night.” He said that the team typically does not comment on such matters because the dissemination of information is untrustworthy, which leads to unjustified public criticism of uninvolved people.