Washington State University President Elson Floyd ‘s instinct to get to the bottom of a football player’s complaints about the Cougar coaching staff is the best way to proceed for all involved.
Floyd asked Sunday for his athletic department and Pac-12 conference officials to independently investigate accusations by former standout receiver Marquess Wilson that “the new regime of coaches has preferred to belittle, intimidate and humiliate us.”
A letter published Saturday in Wilson’s Tulare, Calif., hometown newspaper said he and his teammates had endured such treatment all season: “It is not ‘tough love.’ It is abuse. This abuse cannot be allowed to continue.”
Abuse is a strong word. First-year Cougar coach Mike Leach deserves the benefit of the doubt going into the inquiry. He was fired at Texas Tech in 2009 over unproven allegations he told a player with a concussion to sit in a dark equipment shed during practice.
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Wilson is a gifted player who apparently walked out of a rigorous team workout. Leach suspended him and things unraveled from there. What fueled the obviously deep frustrations of a record-setting athlete?
From the outside looking in, one cannot help but wonder if any of this would be happening if the Cougars had a few more wins. Leach has chewed out his team with vigor, and dragged the offensive and defensive lines before reporters. He has ranted about poor team play, but has not singled out individuals.
What are the lines in coaching at all levels? When does the stereotypical harangues by coaches in the name of motivation cross over into abuse? The pursuit of physical and mental toughness is demanding, but comes with expectations of participation and effort.
What happened in the locker room? Were players shoved around and demeaned in the notion that equates to inspiration?
Floyd’s call for independent review is the fairest treatment for all.