Washington State coach Mike Leach is complaining that police in Pullman and members of the media are unfairly focusing on alleged misdeeds by his players.
Leach read a prepared statement after practice on Tuesday night in which he complained about three recent incidents that led to assault investigations by police. Leach said he was concerned that the only people being accused of crimes in the incidents are football players.
“No one has been found guilty,” Leach said, according to a transcript of the comments posted online by The Spokesman-Review. “Some have not been arrested. None are charged.”
“Comments to the media have distorted the facts and already condemned football players in the court of public opinion,” Leach said.
“Many of the statements are incomplete or totally false,” Leach said. “I’m going to do what I should have done in the first place, which is presume them innocent until proven guilty.”
On Monday, police arrested one Washington State player on suspicion of assault, and recommended that assault charges be filed against another player in a separate incident.
Police are also investigating a large fight earlier in the summer allegedly involving multiple unnamed football players and students.
Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins denied his officers are picking on players.
“I disagree that we are targeting football players,” Jenkins said Wednesday. “We treat everyone the same. We treat everyone fair.”
Jenkins said his officers conducted “thorough and professional investigations” of the incidents, with no preferential treatment for anyone.
Athletic director Bill Moos issued a statement Wednesday saying the school will cooperate fully with law enforcement.
“We intend to respect the legal process and all the rights guaranteed to everyone involved,” Moos said.
“Until the full legal process has reached completion, WSU Athletics will have no further comment on these matters,” Moos said. “We believe such a position is most fair to all parties and best protects the integrity of the legal process.”
Washington State students and staff dominate Pullman, a town of about 30,000 people. Students make up two-thirds of the population, Jenkins said.
Leach’s team has struggled this season, losing to Eastern Washington and Boise State in the first two games. On Monday, Leach lashed out at his players for not being tough enough.