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Mike Leach Acquitted Via Internal Investigation — Pac-12 Review Pending

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The Washington State Cougar football team had a rough season under first-year head coach Mike Leach, highlighted by an eight-game conference losing streak that stretched into Thanksgiving weekend. A few days before that eighth loss (a blowout against UCLA), star wide receiver Marquess Wilson quit the team via an accusatory letter full of serious allegations against the football program and athletic department:

It is with a heavy heart that I announce my decision to forgo playing football for Washington State University. I realize the school is saying that I am suspended for violating team policies and may return next week, but this is a lie. This is an attempt by the athletic department to cover up what is really happening in that locker room…

…This was going to be our year. My teammates and I were aspiring to be the winning team you deserve. Unfortunately for all, the new coaching staff has destroyed that endeavor. I believe coaches have a chance to mold players, to shape men, to create greatness. However, the new regime of coaches has preferred to belittle, intimidate and humiliate us. This approach has obviously not been successful, and has put a dark shadow on this program…

…My teammates and I have endured this treatment all season long. It is not “tough love”. It is abuse. This abuse cannot be allowed to continue. I feel it is my duty to stand up and shed light on this situation by sacrificing my dreams, my education and my pride. I resign from this team. I am deeply sorry to those I am letting down. I am not a quitter. I was raised by my family, and many previous coaches to exhibit dedication and embrace sacrifice, but there comes a time when one has to draw a line in the sand.

WSU President Elson Floyd immediately demanded an inquiry into the allegations. Wednesday afternoon, WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos submitted his findings to Floyd — read the entire report here — and a couple important tidbits stand out:

A total of 12 players were interviewed by two members of my staff. The makeup of those players was as diverse as possible with attention paid to position, year in school and ethnicity…The result of these discussions found that all 12 players felt they are having a positive experience at Washington State and feel supported academically and socially as well as from a football perspective...

The players described the practices as up-tempo and demanding great focus and effort. The players did say the off-season conditioning sessions are intense and challenging, but appropriate for what they are designed to achieve. Some players describe the practices now as easier and the conditioning activities harder than with the prior coaching staff. According to them, the current coaches stress that they want the players to be mentally and physically tough and accountable…

…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. What is not widely known but is of great importance is I received a text message from the departing player following the UCLA football game where he recanted the allegations of abuse made in a letter written by he and a relative and sent to the media earlier that evening.

The bold part isn’t news to Cougar fans, as Leach briefly mentioned it during his end-of-season press conference. But now that Leach and Moos both have relayed the message, it confirms what most of Cougar nation assumed all along: Wilson was full of crap. Other players had quit — or were released — as a result of the coaching change and various team policy violations, but they didn’t slam the program on their way out. Wilson, on the other hand, chose to make his departure an ugly divorce. However, his accusations became suspect after WSU turned in a spirited second half comeback against UCLA and an improbable comeback win in overtime against rival Washington in the Apple Cup.

Such performances aren’t the hallmarks of quitters. In fact, the letter almost seemed to rejuvenate the Cougars. So not only is Marquess Wilson a quitter, he’s a lying quitter — a stigma that many NFL teams will keep in mind come draft day.

via Cougfan