SPOKANE — A Pac-12 investigation found no evidence of physical or mental abuse of players in the Washington State University football program under coach Mike Leach, the league said Tuesday.
The findings of the independent review mirrored the findings of WSU’s own internal review of the allegations, which was released last month.
Former Washington State receiver Marquess Wilson contended near the end of last football season that players were suffering physical and mental abuse at the hands of coaches. Wilson, who quit the team, subsequently recanted his allegations.
But university President Elson Floyd asked the school and the Pac-12 to investigate the charges anyway.
“I am pleased with the outcome of both reviews,” Floyd said in a press release Tuesday. “The well-being of all WSU students is our highest priority and it was important to take seriously allegations against the program.”
The Pac-12 report was compiled after 20 interviews with coaches, players, parents of players and athletic department staff members.
Wilson, the leading receiver in Washington State history, contended in a letter sent to journalists on Nov. 10 that he quit the team prior to the UCLA game as a protest to “physical, emotional and verbal abuse” by the coaching staff. He complained that coaches would “belittle, intimidate and humiliate us.” He did not provide details.
The same night he sent the letter, Wilson sent a text message to athletic director Bill Moos in which he recanted those allegations.
Leach also has denied the allegations of abuse.
The Pac-12 investigation was conducted by the law firm of Bond Schoeneck &King of Overland Park, Kan. Investigators interviewed Wilson, who told them there was no physical abuse.
“I wasn’t trying to accuse anybody of abuse,” the report quoted Wilson as saying. “I mean, they never touched us.”
Wilson said he was just trying to explain why he quit the team.
“I definitely could have used a different word,” Wilson said. “I couldn’t think of anything or another word at the time I was writing it.”
Leach told investigators that Wilson “never worked hard” and was criticized by coaches for that.
Moos said the release of the Pac-12 report should bring an end to the issue.
“My support for Mike Leach and his methods and his plan have never wavered,” Moos told reporters. “I’m even more enthused about the path we are on.”
Leach was fired from Texas Tech after the 2009 season after claims that he mistreated a player suffering from a concussion. Leach disputed the allegation and it was not proven. Leach has sued Texas Tech, contending he was fired so the school could avoid a large payment that was due to him at the end of that year.