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Updated Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Cougars receiver Marquess Wilson claims 'physical, emotional and verbal abuse'

By Bud Withers
Seattle Times staff reporter

PULLMAN — Marquess Wilson, Washington State's career-leading receiver suspended by the football program last week, issued a letter Saturday afternoon saying he's done at the school and alleging "physical, emotional and verbal abuse" by Mike Leach's first-year coaching staff.

In a letter texted to The Seattle Times and addressed to "Cougar Nation," Wilson said the notion that he might return after being suspended for WSU's game with UCLA Saturday night was a "lie" propagated by the athletic department.

He said he has chosen to "resign" from the team and cited coaches who "belittle, intimidate and humiliate us."

The letter was sent to The Times by Richard Miranda, Wilson's stepfather, who, like Wilson, spoke last week with WSU athletic director Bill Moos following Wilson's suspension for leaving a demanding conditioning practice Sunday night.

Miranda said he encouraged Wilson to send out the statement, partly because WSU's statement that he had been suspended for "team violations" might have left the wrong impression.

"When you put that title out there, he's a bad kid," Miranda said. "What was he doing, drugs? But what he did was, he was fed up with what was going on."

Miranda said Wilson preferred not to be interviewed and would stand by his statement.

Asked for examples of abuse Wilson cited, Miranda referred to halftime of last week's Utah game in Salt Lake City, when "some coaches were physical, putting their hands on players, pushing them into lockers. That's just hearsay, but it's hearsay from people within (the locker room)."

Asked by The Times last Monday about the alleged incident, Leach said, "Yeah, it was intense and face-to-face, but it wasn't some physical ruckus."

Miranda said descriptions of the Sunday-night practice, including maneuvers in the sand pit Leach had constructed after he came to WSU, prompted Miranda to encourage Wilson to release his letter.

"Marquess was kind of hesitant," he said. "I said, you don't know who else you might be saving down the road."

WSU athletic director Bill Moos issued a statement Saturday night, saying he had been hopeful to provide "additional guidance if (Wilson) was willing to meet the standards that have been set by 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."

Moos added, "We have procedures in place that were developed to monitor student-athlete welfare in all of our sports programs. We will continue to follow those procedures and modify them if needed."

The Wilson developments come after a controversial postgame scene last week in Salt Lake City after the Cougars lost 49-6 to Utah. Leach criticized linemen for an effort "bordering on cowardice" and ordered them to answer media questions.

Leach was fired from Texas Tech after the 2009 season following an incident in which he was alleged to have ordered a player with a concussion into a storage shed. He disputed that and it wasn't proven, but Texas Tech dismissed him and he sued the school, alleging he was fired so Tech could avoid a large payment due him at calendar's end that year.

Wilson's stepfather said the star receiver, who has 3,207 career yards, hasn't decided what to do beyond staying in school to finish out the fall semester. He could enter the NFL draft or, as a third-year junior, could transfer to another school, redshirt and play as a fifth-year senior in 2014.

His statement:

"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 has 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."

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com



Marquess Wilson




WILLIAM MANCEBO / GETTY IMAGES
Head coach Mike Leach of the Washington State Cougars on the sidelines early in the fourth quarter as the Cougars trail the UCLA Bruins 21- 44 at Martin Stadium.




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