Washington State lost out on over $1.5 million after football coach Mike Leach tweeted out a blatantly doctored video of President Barack Obama this summer.
Leach tweeted out the video in June and asked his followers for their thoughts. The video was heavily edited to make Obama appear to be saying things he was clearly not actually saying in a 2014 speech to the European Union. Leach was defiant after tweeting the video and even got into a spat with a sportswriter following the tweet.
His actions cost the school some serious cash. A spokesperson told the Lewiston Tribune that the school lost out on pledges totaling $1.6 million in the aftermath of Leach’s decision to tweet out the video.
A follow-up email Wednesday evening from Marketing and Communications Vice President Phil Weiler clarified the amount: “As the president mentioned, no one who had made a cash gift has asked for their money back. We did have five donors let us know that they had altered plans for their future giving, however. These were primarily estate gifts that would have been paid out upon the donor’s death. These planned estate gifts totaled $1.6 million.”
Leach immediately defended the video
If Leach immediately apologized for tweeting out the video and said he made a mistake and wouldn’t repeat it again, it’s easy to see how the dumb decision wouldn’t have been a big deal. But he didn’t do that.
The eccentric coach engaged with people on Twitter after posting the video, asking users to “prove” that the video was fake. From our own Jack Baer in June:
All told, Leach asked Twitter users to “prove it” nine different times (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) as he continued to march through the internet battlegrounds, conveniently missing the many people trying to provide him with proof the video he shared was fake.
It didn’t end there, either. Leach even asked someone on Twitter what a fact was.
What’s a fact?
— Mike Leach (@Coach_Leach) June 18, 2018
Leach deleted the video the following day and Washington State issued a statement saying that Leach had the right to express his views as a private citizen. The craziness didn’t end there.
Leach started Twitter spat with sportswriter
After USA Today’s Dan Wolken criticized Leach for tweeting the video and defending it, Leach went after Wolken and challenged him to a debate on Twitter.
Two days after that — and four days after tweeting the video — Leach gave an interview to the Seattle Times and said he was “not particularly sorry” for posting the video. He also went after Wolken again. It was a bizarre week. And it’s even more bizarre in hindsight now that we know that Leach’s inability to apologize and move on cost the school a lot of money.
At least Leach can now point to his team’s success on the football field this season. Washington State is No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings and is 9-1 heading into Saturday’s game against Arizona. Maybe the football team’s success will help make up for those lost pledges. And maybe Leach will now think twice in the future knowing that his actions cost the school some serious future cash.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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