WILSON REPORT: Leach firm, fair, consistent

MIKE LEACH

IN A MEMO sent today to university president Elson Floyd, Washington State athletic director Bill Moos said his department's review of the football program found "no report or detection of abuse or inappropriate behavior" after conducting interviews with 12 players representing a cross-section of the team. Mike Leach was characterized as firm, fair and consistent, and "very engaged" in academics.

Cougfan.com obtained the memo through a public records request to the university.

The review, conducted the week of Nov. 12, said "that the head coach is firm, fair and most of all, consistent. If the team or any player(s) are not meeting the expectations put in place, there are consequences that range from extended study halls to additional conditioning sessions."

Four members of Moos' senior staff, none of whom is named in the memo, conducted the review and focused their attention on the football program's academic services, nutrition and training table, athletic training, strength and conditioning, and equipment operations.

Marquess Wilson's Text
to Bill Moos


From among the documents Cougfan.com received from WSU on Tuesday following a public records request was this Nov. 10 text from the junior wide receiver to the athletic director.

"Mr. Moos this is marquess ... With that letter I wasn't trying to accuse the coaches of hitting players or anything. I was just trying to put it in different terms and now everything is getting misinterpreted and I didn't mean it like that at all … I simply was trying to get my story across and get my name cleared instead of having it say I'm suspended for breaking team violations … That could mean like I did drugs or something … I was never trying to harm the university or the program with it"


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Moos and Floyd called for the football program's review after receiver Marquess Wilson, who left the program on Nov. 4, sent a written statement to reporters on Nov. 10, shortly before the Cougars kicked off against UCLA, saying WSU coaches "preferred to belittle, intimidate and humiliate us … It is not ‘tough love'. It is abuse."

Moos notes in the memo that he was contacted by Wilson shortly after Wilson made the allegations. "What is not widely known but is of great importance is I received a text message from the departing player following the UCLA football game where he recanted the allegations of abuse made in a letter written by he and a relative and sent to the media earlier that evening."

Moos also says the 12 interviewed players described practices as up-tempo and demanding great focus and effort. "The players did say the off-season conditioning sessions are intense and challenging, but appropriate for what they are designed to achieve."

The only area of concern noted in the report was one that came to Moos' attention back in October and he dealt with at that time. "Isolated concerns were raised" regarding some conditioning drills in the sand box early in the 2012 season, "which led to my asking staff to formally observe these activities," Moos wrote. "In the first half of the season water was used on occasion to harden the sand in the box and at times players were sprayed. This practice was discontinued upon my directive around mid-season as I felt it was not necessary to produce the desired results. I have since implemented additional checks and balances for our strength and conditioning staff …"

The sand box is the 40-yard-by-20-yard "Leach Beach" that the coach installed at WSU early last spring. The idea, which Leach brought with him from Texas Tech, is to strengthen players' ankles, especially receivers', through low-impact conditioning. It also is used for conditioning related to unmet expectations around effort.

Since distributing his letter of complaint, Wilson has left mostly limited public comment on the matter to his stepfather. CF.C has tried several times over the last month, most recently on Monday, to talk with Wilson. He agreed to an interview on Nov. 18 but did not return calls or texts at the appointed time. In an interesting twist, high school football prospect Taylor Tatum of Seattle told CF.C this past Sunday, following his official visit to WSU over the weekend, that he talked with Wilson during the visit and that Wilson had only good things to say about WSU and the coaching staff.

WSU launched its review of the program two days after Wilson's allegations, and also asked the Pac-12 Conference to conduct a third-party analysis, the results of which are expected to be out any day now. WSU's review didn't include an interview with Wilson, but the Pac-12's did.

Moos' memo to Floyd said discussions with the 12 players interviewed as part of the review found that all 12 felt "they are having a positive experience at Washington State and feel supported academically and socially as well as from a football perspective. They feel that we have a strong support system in place to assist them as student-athletes and that academics is a priority with the football program. The players stated that they have been challenged as students and athletes, and believe they have grown as a result. They said that they welcomed the challenge in order to be more mentally and physically prepared to compete at the Pac-12 level."

HERE IS MOOS' MEMO TO FLOYD IN ITS ENTIRETY ...

Memorandum

To: Elson Floyd, President
From: Bill Moos, Director of Athletics
Date: December 12, 2012
Re: Review of Football Program

Per your request, an in-season review of the Washington State University football program was conducted in response to written allegations of abuse by a former football student-athlete. This review was carried out by four members of the Intercollegiate Athletic Department's Senior Staff at my request and began immediately after receipt of your request during the week of November 12, 2012. The charge to the group was to meet with current players as well as personnel from all areas of the department that work directly with the football program to determine if there are signs of abuse or other types of inappropriate behavior by the coaches or staff as alleged by the departing player. Following is an overview of the findings.

Player Review:
A total of 12 players were interviewed by two members of my staff. The makeup of those players was as diverse as possible with attention paid to position, year in school and ethnicity. The selection of the players was made by my Senior Associate Athletic Director that oversees the area of transition and retention and then was approved by me. All players were urged to be honest and forthright and were assured there would be no repercussions regarding their comments.

The result of these discussions found that all 12 players felt they are having a positive experience at Washington State and feel supported academically and socially as well as from a football perspective. They feel that we have a strong support system in place to assist them as student-athletes and that academics is a priority with the football program.

The players stated that they have been challenged as students and athletes, and believe they have grown as a result. They said that they welcomed the challenge in order to be more mentally and physically prepared to compete at the Pac-12 level.

The players described the practices as up-tempo and demanding great focus and effort. The players did say the off-season conditioning sessions are intense and challenging, but appropriate for what they are designed to achieve. Some players describe the practices now as easier and the conditioning activities harder than with the prior coaching staff. According to them, the current coaches stress that they want the players to be mentally and physically tough and accountable.

The players said they believe in the coaches and that they will take the program to a higher level. They said the coaches are tough but fair and that they care about them as human beings. They went on to say the coaching staff has boosted the confidence of the team and that all players are treated equally regardless of role.

The majority of the players stated that the player that walked out of practice let the team down and put them, their coach and WSU in a bad light. What is not widely known but is of great importance is I received a text message from the departing player following the UCLA football game where he recanted the allegations of abuse made in a letter written by he and a relative and sent to the media earlier that evening.

Area Review:
As mentioned, I assigned members of my Senior Staff to review the areas that they oversee that work directly with the football program. Those areas include Academic Services, Nutrition and Training Table, Athletic Training, Strength and Conditioning, and Equipment Operations. People in these areas have direct contact with the players and coaches at practice, in meetings, in the training room, in the equipment room, at training table and in the locker room. Virtually every aspect of the football program is observed by personnel who work in these areas.

Findings:
The consistent theme was that there are three basic standards that are set at a high level and that are not to be compromised. These standards are academics, personal behavior and maximum effort. A great deal of focus is placed on these standards and there are consequences to face if players do not meet these levels of expectation.

The head coach and his staff are very engaged in academics and are respected by those who work in academic services. Academic performance and degree completion are the highest of priorities. The coaches expect great effort and focus from their student-athletes and for them to be accountable.

Another central theme is that the head coach is firm, fair and most of all, consistent. If the team or any player(s) are not meeting the expectations put in place, there are consequences that range from extended study halls to additional conditioning sessions. The approach used in these situations are designed to strengthen mental toughness and to bond the team. Failure to meet expectations in practice, in the classroom or in the community, could result in additional workouts. These generally occur in the sand box next to the practice field, which serves a dual role as an area to train and strengthen the body and also as a location for additional physical conditioning activities.

Isolated concerns were raised regarding some conditioning drills in the sand box early in the 2012 season which led to my asking staff to formally observe these activities. In the first half of the season water was used on occasion to harden the sand in the box and at times players were sprayed. This practice was discontinued upon my directive around mid-season as I felt it was not necessary to produce the desired results. I have since implemented additional checks and balances for our strength and conditioning staff. Additionally, I have come to understand that practice and conditioning concerns were raised during previous coaching transitions and after review, found to be without merit.

The training area reported that there has been urging by the coaches to get injured players rehabbed and back in the line-up. The review found no evidence however, that the safety of any player has ever been compromised. I did change the primary trainer for football during the season. This change was to allow for greater focus on the overall training room operation as the football trainer was also serving as the administrator responsible for overseeing all of the department's training room services.

From this review, I believe that the football student-athletes respect the head coach and his staff and feel they will move the program to a greater level of respect and competitiveness. Throughout this review there was no report or detection of abuse or inappropriate behavior. There has been a greater emphasis placed on focus, effort, commitment and accountability, areas needing immediate attention given the lack of on-field success in recent years. Changes in approach during coaching transitions commonly present challenges to players and staff alike. To their credit, the players and staff are forming a camaraderie and understanding of the commitment necessary for a competitive program.

This concludes my review.

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