Washington State president Kirk Schulz and athletic director Bill Moos plan to meet with the chief of the Pullman Police Department, possibly as soon as Thursday, to discuss the growing rift between the football program and those who police the college town.
Moos told ESPN that he requested the meeting with Chief Gary Jenkins and there was “a mutual feeling” to discuss three separate incidents involving alleged assaults by football players, as well as the fiery comments from head coach Mike Leach.
In a statement to a group of reporters on Tuesday, Leach intimated that the police department was singling out his players.
“He’s doing what any good football coach would do,” Moos said Wednesday. “He’s trying to protect his players. There is no coach I’ve ever been around in my long career as an athletic director that is more of a disciplinarian than Mike Leach. He’s got solid rules that pertain to drug testing, assault of women, and robbery that are no-tolerance. He’s tough on fighting, too.”
Leach: Cops, media unfairly target football players
Mike Leach claimed in a statement on Tuesday that Washington State’s recent series of football player arrests is at least partly due to disproportionate targeting by the media and Pullman police.
Wash St. LB arrested in robbery investigation
Washington State linebacker Logan Tago arrested on suspicion of robbery and assault in a June incident; assault charge recommended against safety Shalom Luani in August incident.
Leach made his statements after news broke that linebacker Logan Tago had been arrested Monday on suspicion of robbery and assault. The same day, the Pullman police department recommended that safety Shalom Luani be charged with second-degree assault stemming from an incident in August. A third investigation that may include multiple football players involved in a fight at a house party in July is ongoing.
Asked if he agrees with his coach that the police are targeting football players, Moos said: “I don’t know if they are deliberately doing that. I think our guys are the most recognizable. When you’re in a group and there is a party … a big guy stands out. This is an intimate enough campus. There, students know who the athletes are.”
Jenkins was traveling out of the state Wednesday, but told the Spokesman-Review on Wednesday that he understands Leach’s frustrations. A spokesman for the department said Jenkins was scheduled to be back in the office on Thursday, and a spokesman for the WSU president confirmed their plan to meet.
“I don’t take [the comments] personally,” Jenkins told the paper. “I am sensitive that my staff might. I just want to make it clear that my staff hasn’t done anything wrong in any way. But I completely understand where coach Leach is coming from.
“Our priority is a thorough investigation, and sometimes that takes time. To me, these latest incidents, I would consider them an anomaly from what we have seen from the players of these coaches.”
Leach’s biggest point of contention is that in all three incidents, there may be others involved, but only the football players are being singled out.
Washington State opened the 2016 season with three-point losses to Eastern Washington and Boise State. The Cougars wrap up their nonconference schedule on Saturday at home against Idaho.