This past Wednesday, Washington State head coach Mike Leach suspended wide receiver Marquess Wilson indefinitely for violating team rules. Three days later, on Saturday, Wilson formally announced that he was leaving the team.
Neither coaches disciplining their players nor players leaving their teams is that unusual. It happens. What makes this case unique, however, is what Wilson said on his way out the door.
Here was Wilson's statement (via the Visalia Times-Delta):
Dear Cougar Nation:
It is with a heavy heart that I announce my decision to forgo playing football for Washington State University. I realize the school is saying that I am suspended for violating team policies and may return next week, but this is a lie. This is an attempt by the athletic department to cover up what is really happening in that locker room.
It is been a privilege to be a Cougar, to perform on your field and wear the Crimson and Gray. I would like to thank Washington State University for giving me the opportunity to do what I love most, to play football and receive a quality education for the past three years. I’m grateful to the athletic department for the coaching, care and encouragement I have received prior to this season.
This was going to be our year. My teammates and I were aspiring to be the winning team you deserve. Unfortunately for all, the new coaching staff has destroyed that endeavor. I believe coaches have a chance to mold players, to shape men, to create greatness. 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. I resign from this team. I am deeply sorry to those I am letting down. I am not a quitter. I was raised by my family, and many previous coaches to exhibit dedication and embrace sacrifice, but there comes a time when one has to draw a line in the sand.
Lastly, I thank my fellow teammates, those who also have left the program this year, and those we are leaving behind. I hope our departure will bring awareness to the physical, emotional and verbal abuse being allowed in the locker room and on the field. I pray for healing and recovery for all those who have been hurt by this treatment
And here was the statement released by Washington State athletic director Bill Moos (via the Visalia Times-Delta):
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. I was hopeful to provide additional guidance if he was willing to meet the standards that have been set my 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.
Safe to say that, given Leach’s history and the severity of these accusations, this isn’t the last we’re going to hear of this mess. And in you’re wondering why it matters, this tweet sums it up quite nicely:
3. If Wilson's accusations are in fact false he may have blown his NFL future. If true, Leach may never coach again
— Scott Enyeart (@ScottEnyeart) November 11, 2012
(Kudos Visalia Times-Delta)