A controversial tweet sent by head football coach Mike Leach in June depicting a fake video of a speech by former President Barack Obama cost Washington State University $1.6 million in pledged donations.
President Kirk Schulz estimated the cost was more than $1 million during a meeting Wednesday at the Lewiston Tribune. A follow-up email Wednesday evening from Phil Weiler, marketing and communications vice president, clarified the amount: “As the president mentioned, no one who had made a cash gift has asked for their money back. We did have five donors let us know that they had altered plans for their future giving, however. These were primarily estate gifts that would have been paid out upon the donor’s death. These planned estate gifts totaled $1.6 million.”
The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported around 60 emails were sent to the Cougar Athletic Fund, WSU’s fundraising arm for athletics, following the tweet.
“We put all of our head coaches and cabinet through social media training just to make sure people are aware that what they are doing often reflects on their job, not their private political views,” Schulz said. “At the end of the day, Coach Leach is like anyone else. He can elect to do some of those things as a private citizen.”
Schulz doesn’t expect a repeat situation from Leach. He also said some of the donations being withheld may come back at a later date.
“What happens sometimes is people watch for six months, see how things are and then say, ‘Maybe on second thought, we’ll do this,’ ” Schulz said. “So, I think it’s a little bit early to tell.”
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