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Pac-12 asked to independently investigate claims of abuse at Washington State

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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(US Presswire)

The Pac-12 has been called to independently investigate claims of abuse by the Washington State coaching staff, according to commissioner Larry Scott.

Scott said Ron Barker, the conference's head of enforcement, would likely lead the investigation.

Saturday evening, former wide receiver Marquess Wilson sent out an open letter to the media announcing he was quitting the team and claiming that the coaching staff's abuse had played a role in his decision.

Wilson had been suspended indefinitely after walking out on a practice Nov. 4.

"I believe coaches have a chance to mold players, to shape men, to create greatness," Wilson said in his letter. "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."

Washington State athletic director Bill Moos issued a statement Sunday evening stating he was hoping to have a chance to talk to Wilson before he decided to quit the team.

"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," Moos said. "I was hopeful to provide additional guidance if he was willing to meet the standards that have been set by 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.

"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."

It's important to note that Wilson and coach Mike Leach haven't gotten along from the beginning. In spring ball Leach publicly questioned Wilson's work ethic and often referred to the second-team All-Pac-12 receiver as inconsistent and soft.

And the animosity between the two parties has only worsened in the past few weeks.

Against Stanford on Oct. 27, Wilson was benched and spent the next week of practice sulking, much to the chagrin of the coaching staff. Subsequently, for the first time in three seasons, Wilson lost his starting spot against Utah. The next day he walked out of practice; a week later he's alleging abuse and quitting the team.

This isn't the first time a player has claimed mistreatment from Leach. Former Red Raider receiver Adam James alleged the coach mistreated him and Leach was fired. James later recanted his claims under oath.

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