Atousa Habibi, mother of Cyrus Habibi-Likio says the tension between WSU football and the Pullman Police is not the main reason her son withdrew his verbal from WSU on Sunday

Share story

When Saint Francis (Mountain View, Calif.) running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio withdrew his verbal commitment from Washington State on Sunday night, there was widespread speculation as to whether the change of heart was related to the legal troubles Cougars football players had last week and WSU coach Mike Leach’s assertion that Pullman Police was targeting his players.

The Cougars had a tumultuous week leading up to the Idaho game, with Pullman Police recommending assault charges for Shalom Luani, Robert Barber and T.J. Fehoko and a robbery charge for Logan Tago in three unrelated cases.

However, Atousa Habibi, Cyrus’ mother said Tuesday that while she closely followed the issues unfolding in Pullman last week, they were not the reason her son decided to withdraw his commitment to WSU.

“That wasn’t the main reason for him decommiting,” Habibi said. “He wanted to take all his officials. And after he took his first visit (to Utah) he felt, ‘It’s not morally right for me to take all these visits while committed. He felt like it was cheating. … He just felt like if he was going to be taking visits, he should give everybody a fair chance.”

That’s exactly how Habibi-Likio explained his decommitment in a tweet he wrote on Sunday night. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound running back also made it a point to say that he was “still considering WSU as one of my top choices.”

His mother reiterated this stance, saying running backs coach Jim Mastro has been “phenomenal” and that one of the things her family liked most about WSU was the familial atmosphere surrounding the program.

Habibi said the back-and-forth that unfolded between WSU and the Pullman Police last week was “definitely a concern, as a parent,” but that she respected the way Leach stood up for his players.

“He’s standing by his players, which is what a coach would do,” Habibi said. “It doesn’t make me think, ‘Oh they’re just this scummy team.’ It happens. Not just at WSU but everywhere. I’m the type of person who’s an advocate of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ so I think there’s a bigger picture there and we have to see how it plays out.

“Hopefully these boys will be proven not guilty. I hope it’s not the end of their careers because it’s one bad choice. If anything this is a lesson for Cyrus and all the players.”

Habibi-Likio, 17, will likely take visits to Boise, Hawaii and WSU in the coming months, his mother said.

“I think he’s gonna take his visits and see what happens, and at the end he will make the right choice,” Habibi said.

Habibi-Likio is rated a three-star recruit by He wants to major in either communications or business, and is hoping to be an early enrollee and join his college team in the spring.