WSU football coach being cleared boosts public trust

WSU’s president made the right call to have abuse charges against coach Mike Leach thoroughly investigated.

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Washington State University’s football program and its brash coach, Mike Leach, were cleared of allegations of physical, emotional and verbal abuse of a player.

In hindsight, some might wonder whether it was worthwhile for the Pac-12 conference to bring in a law firm from Kansas to investigate the charges. After all, the player making the charges, Marquess Wilson, began waffling on his accusations soon after he made them and none of his former teammates backed his claims.

The investigation had to be done, and it had to be done by independent investigators. College football has been hit with a number of scandals recently, from extremely serious incidents such as child abuse to players selling their jerseys. It’s cast a cloud over big-time college football. It was important for WSU to establish, without a doubt, whether the abuse claim against Leach and the program was false.

Leach had previously been embroiled in at least one high-profile mess. Leach was fired at Texas Tech in 2009 after Adam James, son of a former ESPN analyst Craig James, claimed he was instructed to spend practice in a darkened equipment shed as treatment for a concussion. It was found the allegation was overblown.

Nevertheless, given the smoke in the past, WSU President Elson Floyd was wise to call for the outside investigation by the Pac-12 as well as an internal probe conducted by the school’s athletic department.

The results of both investigations were similar: There was no abuse by Leach or assistant coaches. The Pac-12’s work was far more comprehensive. In the end, that investigation offered some suggested improvements such having the training sessions and workouts approved by the athletic director and then making the expectations for those programs, as well as the possible discipline, clear.

Yes, a lot of time and money went into investigations that went essentially nowhere, but Floyd’s decision to investigate is still prudent. It’s important for the public to trust the college football programs in this state are operating within the letter — and the spirit — of the NCAA rules as well as behavior acceptable in society.

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