The Washington State Cougars have endured a brutal 2012 season. What once began as a season full of hope and promise has turned into a 2-8 record with zero wins in conference. It will be new head coach Mike Leach‘s least successful season as a head coach ever, and there have been frayed nerves all around. Things are about to become even more tense, however, as the Pac 12 will be investigating Leach, his staff, and the Washington State program after allegations of abuse were levied by former star wide receiver Marquess Wilson.
Wilson, who set single season records for receiving last season, was leading the team in receiving again this season with 52 receptions for 813 yards. But inconsistency and drops, along with loss after loss, were beginning to wear on everyone, and the junior wide receiver was visibly affected by the team’s struggles.
The day after the team’s humiliating 49-6 loss on the road to the Utah Utes, where Leach went off on his team for seven minutes in his post-game press conference, Wilson reportedly walked out of a practice during conditioning. The next day, the team announced that Wilson was suspended indefinitely. Then on Saturday, Wilson announced he was leaving the team and accused the coaches of abusive behavior.
Wilson told reporters that he was leaving the program because of the actions of Leach and his staff. Wilson says that the new staff has “preferred to belittle, intimidate, and humiliate us,” and that included physical abuse.
After Saturday’s 44-36 loss to the UCLA Bruins, Leach was asked about the Wilson situation, but was in no mood to discuss it. “I’m not going to talk about anybody that’s not here, you know. I coach the guys that are here. I don’t have anything to say about anybody that’s not here,” Leach said.
When he was pressed and asked if he was denying physically abusing Wilson, Leach replied sharply, “Absolutely. Next question. And if you expect to ask another one, you won’t keep walking down that path.”
Leach came to Washington State after being out of coaching for two years when his 10-year stint with the Texas Tech Red Raiders ended unceremoniously after claims of mistreatment by a player.
Washington State president Elson Floyd has called for both the athletic department and the Pac 12 conference to conduct investigations into these allegations. On Sunday, Floyd met with athletic director Bill Moos and told him to bring the findings of their investigation to him immediately in order to “get to the bottom of the matter.”
Moos, meanwhile, issued his own statement, saying it was unfortunate to see Wilson go. He reiterated that there are procedures in place to monitor the welfare of student-athletes in all of their athletic programs. According to Moos, these procedures will continue to be followed unless their investigation shows they need to be modified.
For Leach, it is yet another sour note in his inaugural season in Pullman. With a history of allegations and his gruff, public demonstrations about his team in press conferences have forced the school and the conference to do their due diligence. If the allegations prove true, it will be a short coaching stop in Pullman for Leach, and likely his last.