By Christian Caple The Spokesman-Review
PULLMAN — In a letter faxed Saturday to The Spokesman-Review and other media outlets, Marquess Wilson, Washington State’s career leader in receiving yards, announced he has left the Cougars and their program of “physical, emotional and verbal abuse.”
Coach Mike Leach said Wilson had been suspended earlier this week after he walked out of a Sunday night workout.
But in his statement, which was sent to media members by his stepfather, Richard Miranda, Wilson said he has left the team, and the athletic department lied about his status with the team “to cover up what is really happening in that locker room.”
Wilson continued by saying “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.”
Miranda told the Spokesman-Review via email that Wilson did not wish to comment further.
Wilson leaves as WSU’s all-time leading receiver, and was leading the Cougars with 52 catches for 813 yards this season before Leach announced his suspension on Monday.
Leach has been publicly critical of the Cougars throughout the season. After a 49-6 loss to Utah last week, Leach said his team’s effort “bordered on cowardice” at times and resembled “a zombie convention.” Weeks earlier, he described some of his seniors as possessing an “empty-corpse” quality.
Wilson didn’t appear to mesh well with the new coaches from the beginning. He was criticized in spring for his lack of effort and aggression, but drew praise from coaches early in the fall. Outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons said then that Wilson’s effort was “night and day” different from in the spring.
But Wilson was passed on the depth chart by Dominique Williams in recent weeks, with Leach choosing to start Williams against Stanford and Utah because of his better effort in practice. Wilson still led the Cougars in receiving in each of those games.
WSU athletic director Bill Moos said in radio interviews earlier this week that he had met with Wilson, but that he didn’t know whether he would return to the team.
Moos released a statement during Saturday’s game against UCLA that read, in part: “It is unfortunate that Marquess has chosen not to go through the weekend and have the subsequent visit with me as we had discussed last Tuesday. I was hopeful to provide additional guidance if he was willing to meet the standards that have been set my Mike Leach and his staff in their effort to establish a competitive football program at Washington State. Unfortunately, during times of coaching transitions, departures are not uncommon.”
Moos said WSU has procedures in place to monitor student-athlete welfare, and that the school will modify them if needed.
He continued: “I believe I join many Cougars in wishing Marquess well in his future endeavors. WSU athletics plans no future statement at this time.”
Here is Wilson’s full statement
“Dear Cougar Nation:
“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.
“It has been a privilege to be a Cougar, to perform on your field and wear the Crimson and Gray. I would like to thank Washington State University for giving me the opportunity to do what I love most, to play football and receive a quality education for the past three years. I’m grateful to the athletic department for the coaching, care and encouragement I have received prior to this season.
“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.
“Lastly, I thank my fellow teammates, those who also have left the program this year and those we are leaving behind. I hope our departure will bring awareness to the physical, emotional and verbal abuse being allowed in the locker room and on the field. I pray for healing and recovery for all those who have been hurt by this treatment.”