By Christian Caple The Spokesman-Review
PULLMAN — Washington State will apparently investigate claims made by a former player that its football coaching staff engaged in “physical, emotional and verbal abuse.”
WSU president Elson Floyd said in a statement issued Sunday morning that he has asked the school’s athletic department, as well as the Pac-12, to conduct independent investigations into allegations made by former receiver Marquess Wilson that first-year coach Mike Leach and his staff have abused players.
“Together, both reports should get to the bottom of the matter,” Floyd’s statement concluded.
Wilson’s stepfather, Richard Miranda, sent a written statement by Wilson to several news outlets just hours before WSU’s game against UCLA on Saturday night. In the statement, Wilson announced his departure from the football team, writing “the new regime of coaches has chosen to belittle, humiliate and intimidate us.”
Shortly after WSU’s 44-36 loss to the Bruins, Leach, who suspended Wilson a week ago for walking out of a workout, said he was “not going to talk about anybody that’s not here. I coach the guys that are here. I don’t have anything to say about anybody that’s not here.”
Asked if he denies Wilson’s abuse claims, Leach said: “Absolutely. Next question. And if you expect to ask another one, you won’t keep walking down that path.”
WSU outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons, who last week admitted he wasn’t sure how to resolve the apparent rift between Wilson and the coaching staff, called Wilson’s claims “kind of laughable.”
“As people know me, they know that’s not true,” Simmons said. “As people know the guys that are on our staff, they know that’s not true. My mom once told me as a kid, ‘A wise man never argues with an unintelligent person, because from a distance you can’t tell who’s who.’ So I’ll leave it at that.
“We had a drill. There were 64 guys out there. One guy chose to leave three minutes after the drill started. I ask you: How did I fail him? He wasn’t yelled at. He wasn’t cursed at. Now, he wasn’t chased after. But I mean, (the) same 65 guys that you saw play out there today was the same people that were involved in that drill.”
Workouts under Leach’s watch frequently include the use of a sand pit the coach had installed shortly after his arrival at WSU. The “Leach Beach,” as it’s become known, isn’t necessarily a place of punishment – it’s partially intended to help strengthen players’ ankles – but players are sometimes sent there for lack of effort.
WSU players were mostly mum about the Wilson accusations following Saturday’s game. Freshman receiver Dominique Williams declined comment, and quarterback Connor Halliday said he hadn’t seen any abuse.
Wilson, a junior from Tulare, Calif., leaves as WSU’s all-time leading receiver with 3,207 yards.
WSU (2-8, 0-7 Pac-12) travels to Tempe, Ariz., this week for a noon game at Arizona State on Saturday.