Marquess Wilson has left the Washington State football team according to an inflammatory statement he released that accuses Mike Leach and the WSU coaching staff of "abuse."
The standout junior wide receiver was suspended for unspecified violations of team rules earlier this week. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported that he had stormed out of a team practice, refusing to finish a training drill. Washington State Athletic Director Bill Moos confirmed this scenario during a radio interview with Ian Furness of 950 AM in Seattle.
A spokesman for Cougars football could not immediately confirm to the Associated Press that Wilson had left the team.
Wilson broke his silence on the situation shortly before the Cougars' Week 11 game against UCLA, releasing a statement to the Visalia Times-Delta, Oregonian and other media outlets. In his strongly-worded statement, Wilson accuses the athletic department of a "cover up" and says the coaching staff's "tough love" is actually physical and mental abuse.
“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.
CLICK HERE to read the full statement.
While any accusation of "abuse" by a college athlete against his coaching staff will rightfully draw attention, Leach's involvement makes this episode particularly worrisome given the nature of his exit from Texas Tech. Leach was fired as the Red Raiders football coach in 2009 for his treatment of a player with a concussion. This is Leach's first season at Washington State.
In his statement, Wilson wrote that he hoped his "departure will bring awareness to the physical, emotional and verbal abuse being allowed in the locker room and on the field." Given the timing of the press release, Brian Floyd, managing editor of SB Nation, was skeptical that Wilson's motives were selfless, writing that the statement was "carefully designed to start a public relations fire" and that it "it ends up screwing those teammates he left behind."
MORE FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Star receiver Marquess Wilson says he has quit the Washington State football team, and blamed the coaching staff for what he called abuse of players.
Wilson was suspended this week for an unspecified violation of team rules. He said in a press release Saturday that he has left the program because of the actions of first-year coach Mike Leach and his staff.
Wilson said the new staff has "preferred to belittle, intimidate and humiliate us."
Team spokesman Bill Stevens could not confirm that Wilson, the team's career receptions leader, has left. Stevens said Wilson remains suspended.
Wilson, a junior, set school single-season records last year with 82 receptions and 1,388 yards receiving. This season, he leads the team with 52 receptions for 813 yards.