Marquess Wilson, suspended indefinitely from an underperforming Washington State team by head coach Mike Leach this past week, is leaving the team. He was second-team All-American last year and tops the Cougars' all-time receiving yards list. Here's the letter he gave to the Visalia Times-Delta, in which he alleges mental and physical abuse from Mike Leach and his coaching staff:
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
Brian Floyd—who writes about the Cougars and has attended practices this season—has an interesting take, and suggests a measured reaction, based on his own observations, the timing of the letter, and its target.
If you need a refresher on why WSU Head Coach Mike Leach might be vulnerable to accusations of abuse: Leach was fired by Texas Tech—in a rigmarole so complex Friday Night Lights creator Peter Berg thought about making of a movie of it—in large part because of allegations that he abused Adam James, the son of Craig James, the guy who killed five hookers at SMU and then ran for Senate and lost miserably. Texas Tech claimed that Leach forced a concussed James to stand in a closet, Leach said he had told James to get out of the sun, James said that he found the whole thing funny, and Texas Tech said that Leach was fired. Now, Leach is facing another accusation of physical abuse, and Wilson's claim may strike some as more credible considering Leach's recent history.