SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — An internal investigation into a former player’s allegations of abuse by Washington State football coaches didn’t turn up any evidence of abuse, athletic director Bill Moos said Wednesday.
A dozen players were interviewed by two members of Moos’ staff, and all reported they were having a positive experience at Washington State under head coach Mike Leach and his assistants, Moos said.
“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,” Moos wrote in a memo to WSU President Elson Floyd that was released Wednesday.
“There is no signs of abuse or mistreatment of players,” Moos said in a conference call with reporters from Pullman. “Hopefully, we can get this behind us and go forward.”
Star receiver Marquess Wilson quit the team during a practice late in the season and later contended that players were suffering physical and mental abuse at the hands of coaches.
Floyd asked for the internal review of those allegations, and also asked the Pacific-12 Conference to do its own review. The conference review is still being conducted.
Wilson 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.
Leach denied there was any abuse.
Moos revealed in his memo that he received a text message from Wilson after the UCLA 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.”
Wilson’s text to Moos was included in emails released by the school Wednesday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from a number of media organizations including the AP.
“Mr. Moos this is marquess … With that letter I wasn’t trying to accuse the coaches of hitting players or anything. I was just trying to put it in different terms and now everything is getting misinterpreted and I didn’t mean it like that at all … I simply was trying to get my story across and get my name cleared instead of having it say I’m suspended for breaking team violations … That could mean like I did drugs or something … I was never trying to harm the university or the program with it.”
In his memo, Moos said the players interviewed by his staff reported they felt supported academically and socially on the football team.
“The players did say the offseason conditioning sessions are intense and challenging, but appropriate for what they are designed to achieve,” Moos wrote. “The players said they believe in the coaches and that they will take the program to a higher level.”
Moos said his staff asked players to discuss academic services, nutrition, athletic training, strength and conditioning and equipment operations.
Moos said his staff found “the head coach is firm, fair and most of all, consistent.”
Moos said some concerns were raised regarding conditioning drills in a box of sand next to the practice field.
“Water was used on occasion to harden the sand in the box and at times players were sprayed,” Moos wrote. “This practice was discontinued upon my directive around mid-season as I felt it was not necessary to produce the desired results.”
Leach was fired from Texas Tech after the 2009 season for an incident in which he was alleged to have ordered a player with a concussion to sit in a storage shed during practice. 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 due him at the end of the year.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.