PULLMAN, Wash. — Leaders of Washington State University met Thursday with Pullman’s police chief to discuss recent incidents involving Cougar football players, with both sides saying the meeting was productive.
Washington State President Kirk Schulz and Director of Athletics Bill Moos met with Chief Gary Jenkins in Schulz’s office.
The meeting came two days after football Coach Mike Leach suggested his players were being unfairly targeted by law enforcement.
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.
Moos said it was a chance for the three leaders to discuss the recent incidents and gain a better understanding of processes and procedures.
“We certainly respect the task facing law enforcement and throughout my tenure as athletic director, have made every effort to fully cooperate with local authorities,” Moos said. “I am encouraged as we move forward that we will continue to have an open line of communication and allow the full legal process to play out to ensure fairness is given to all involved.”
Leach complained Tuesday night about three recent incidents that led to assault investigations by police. He said he’s concerned the only people being accused of crimes in the incidents are football players.
Jenkins denied Wednesday that his officers are picking on players, saying they “treat everyone the same.”
Jenkins said Thursday that the meeting went well. “I would describe our relationship beforehand as very good, and I don’t see any change in that,” he said.
The parties discussed how police investigate cases and why some investigations take longer than others, Jenkins said.
On Tuesday night, Leach read a prepared statement after practice in which he contended that police seemed to be focusing on his players. “Comments to the media have distorted the facts and already condemned football players in the court of public opinion,” he 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.”
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.