Bill Moos and Kirk Schulz met with Pullman's Police Chief Gary Jenkins on Thursday.
Washington State President Kirk Schulz and Athletic Director Bill Moos met with Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins for about half an hour on Thursday morning to discuss the growing tension between WSU football and the local police.
The discussion was sparked by WSU football coach Mike Leach’s allegation that Pullman Police had unfairly targeted his football players in their handling of three recent assault cases. Leach’s comments came after a disturbing three month stretch that saw two Cougars – Logan Tago and Shalom Luani arrested for assault in two separate instances, while Pullman Police continue to investigate a third assault case involving WSU football players who were accused of severely injuring two WSU students during an off campus party in July.
Moos said a large part of the meeting centered around communication. He expressed to Jenkins that when a WSU student-athlete is accused of a crime, he would like the police department to inform a WSU Athletic Department administrator, in addition to football administrators.
In the meeting, Moos raised the issue of how the police department disseminated information about these incidents to the media.
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“My piece of it was centered around communication and the fact that the fight (at an off-campus house) occurred in the summer, there were no arrests and there still haven’t been any arrests, and there haven’t been any charges, but the person reading the account of the fight would think, ‘My God, you’ve got thugs and felons on the team,’” Moos said.
Moos said he also addressed Leach’s targeting concern with Jenkins.
“Gary assured us that that is not the case, and I believe him. These officers have tough jobs,” Moos said. “There’s so many positives of attending WSU, and a lot of it centers around the small college town and all of that. But you’re also in a fishbowl to some degree and everybody knows everybody else.
“Our people are easily identifiable. And yet the statements made by individuals in the police department have us painted in a way that really does not do us justice for all the good things we’re doing and the low level of behavioral issues that we’re proud of, especially in comparison to six years before, when I first got here.”
Four WSU football players have been arrested in 2016, though one of the four – defensive back Calvin Green – is no longer on the team. However, prior to the first of these four incidents (Jamal Morrow’s DUI arrest in January), WSU football had gone 15 months since its last encounter with law enforcement, a span that dates from Sept. 2014 to Jan 2016.
Moos said the athletic department will wait to see how the legal process unfolds for Luani and Tago – both of whom have yet to be charged by the Whitman County Prosecutor – before determining either athlete’s fate.
“We do have a policy that if you’re charged with a felony, you cannot compete with the exception of extenuating circumstances,” Moo said. “So if indeed there is a charge, we would have to take a good look at it. … Shalom played last week. He had not been charged.”
Luani and Tago will also likely face hearings in front of WSU’s Student Conduct Board.
“There’s a whole other process internally within the student conduct board that really decides whether (they) can stay in school. That’s a whole other process,” Moos said.
In a statement released by WSU Thursday afternoon, Moos said the meeting gave the university and police department’s leaders a chance to “express thoughts, on all sides, and gain a better understanding of processes and procedures in incidents like we have seen recently.”
“We certainly respect the task facing law enforcement and throughout my tenure as athletic director, have made every effort to fully cooperate with local authorities,” Moos added. “I am encouraged as we move forward that we will continue to have an open line of communication and allow the full legal process to play out to ensure fairness is given to all involved.”
The Pullman Police Department also released a statement acknowledging Jenkins’ meeting with Moos and Schulz, and described the discussion centering around “communication between Pullman PD and WSU, as well as a shared understanding of law enforcement investigation protocols.”
“This discussion gave us the opportunity to foster the positive relationship that already exists and will continue,” Jenkins said in the statement.
The trio also briefly discussed the alleged sexual assault case that recently resulted in the suspension of WSU’s Delta Upsilon fraternity.
Some WSU links:
— Jacob Thorpe of the Spokesman-Review says Moos and Schulz have devised a plan to pay off the athletic department’s debt.
— CougFan breaks down the facts behind WSU’s 31 arrests in the last five years. The number looks worse than it really is, something that I also covered in this post from 2015,“Is WSU really the worst-behaved team in college football? In that story, I looked at every single arrest the Cougs had from 2012 to 2014 and examine how serious each offense was.
— John Blanchette of the Spokesman-Review says Leach drew up some misdirection in defending his players.
— I talk WSU football with Adam Jude in this installment of his weekly Husky Headlines podcast.
— The Houston Press has this more football-related piece on how Hal Mumme and Mike Leach transformed football from a run-first offensive mindset to its current pass-happy ways.
— The Oregonian’s Ken Goe says Mike Leach “passes the blame more than he passes the football.”
— ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel breaks down the “rivalry game” between Idaho and WSU.