When Washington State WR Marquess Wilson quit the team and charged head coach Mike Leach with abusive behavior, few were shocked given the prior allegations made against Leach during his tenure at Texas Tech. However, given that the most explosive of those claims (ie. Leach locked Adam James in an equipment shed) were never proven, the scrutiny afforded to Leach makes Coug Center’s Jeff Nusser, “absolutely sick to my stomach”. “Even if Leach is exonerated,” argues Nusser, “it’s going to be a stain that can’t be removed.”
In the wake of WSU hiring Leach, I was appalled at the number of people who still thought Leach actually locked Adam James in a closet. Why did they think that? I would assume it’s because of the initial coverage in the wake of the allegation. In the newspaper business, it’s a well-known fact that allegations appear at the top of A1, while the exonerations appear on C4. Mountains of evidence exists that James’ accusations were patently false, yet the perception persists.
And now, as President Elson Floyd does the wise thing and initiates a pair of investigations into Wilson’s claims, Mike Leach will have been investigated not once, but twice for abusing his players. That’s never going away, no matter the outcome. I won’t pretend that the damage already done by the accusation somehow makes the outcome irrelevant; if cleared, he’ll keep his multimillion-dollar job, and that obviously matters.
But there will always be that stain.