Despite a close finish on the field Sunday against No. 18 UCLA, the Cougars continue to make noise off the field, where questions of abuse surrounding the coaching staff have surfaced.
After being suspended from the team for walking out of practice last weekend, junior wide receiver Marquess Wilson announced his resignation prior to Saturday’s game, citing the coaching staff as the reason.
In a statement released Saturday, Wilson accused the new coaching regime of belittling, intimidating and humiliating players saying, “It is not ‘tough love.’ It is abuse.”
“This abuse cannot be allowed to continue,” Wilson’s statement continued. “I feel it is my duty to stand up and shed light on this situation by sacrificing my dreams, my education and my pride.”
WSU President Elson S. Floyd responded to Wilson’s allegations Sunday, issuing a full investigation from both the athletic department and the Pac-12 Conference.
“After consultation with WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos, I have asked our athletic department to fully review recent allegations raised concerning the football program and report their findings and conclusions as soon as possible,” Floyd’s statement said. “Simultaneously, I have asked the Pac-12 to independently do the same. Together, both reports should get to the bottom of the matter.”
Moos also released a statement Saturday night in response to Wilson’s allegations saying, “We have procedures in place that were developed to monitor student-athlete welfare in all of our sports programs. We will continue to follow those procedures and modify them if needed.”
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who was in attendance Saturday, said the conference has agreed to look into the allegations of abuse Monday.
While Wilson’s allegations will be investigated, WSU players and coaches denied any physical abuse from the coaching staff.
When asked if he could deny the allegations of physical abuse under his regime, Head Coach Mike Leach responded, “Absolutely. Next question,” telling the reporter, “if you expect to ask another (question), you won’t keep walking down that path.”
While players were mainly quiet about the departing receiver, they denied Wilson’s allegations of abuse as well.
“We love the guy,” said quarterback Connor Halliday, who entered Saturday’s game in place of the injured Jeff Tuel. “I love him to death, but we’ve got to move on. He made his decision.”
Senior quarterback Tuel echoed Halliday’s sentiments on Monday saying, "We gotta move forward. We're not worrying about any of that. We're not going out on the field and going,'Oh, man, Marquess wrote a letter ... 'It's not happening, it's not reality."
This is not the first allegation of abuse for Leach. Leach was fired from Texas Tech in 2009 for alleged mistreatment of a player. After a two-year hiatus, Leach is now in his first year of a five-year $11.25 million deal with WSU.
Wilson, who led the team with 52 receptions for 813 yards this season, leaves as the Cougars’ all-time leading receiver.