In the wake of three incidents involving alleged assaults by Washington State football players, head coach Mike Leach fired back Tuesday evening, intimating that the Pullman Police Department might be unfairly targeting football players.
Leach said that in all of the incidents, other people were involved, but it's just the football players who are being singled out.
"If the other guilty parties are not accused or charged, there needs to be an extensive investigation as to why," Leach said to a group of reporters, according to The Spokesman-Review. "How in the world can only football parties be guilty in events depicted like this? It is irresponsible to this town, this community and everybody to have some kind of a double standard where we only focus on one demographic, one group of people, and then drag their name through the newspaper with a bunch of irresponsible comments."
"We're going to let the legal system take its course," Leach added. "But the system has to be checked if with the number of people involved in these incidents, the only ones accused are football players. If that's the case, then something is seriously wrong, which goes far deeper than whatever has even been alleged. And whatever has been alleged is only fractionally accurate."
Leach's statement comes on the heels of Monday's arrest of linebacker Logan Tago on suspicion of robbery and assault in an incident that occurred in June. It's the third incident in as many months involving football players accused of assault.
Safety Shalom Luani was arrested last month amid accusations of breaking a man's nose during a dispute outside a pizza restaurant in Pullman, Washington. On Tuesday, the Pullman Police Department recommended that Luani, an honorable mention All-Pac-12 player in 2015, be charged with second-degree assault. Police Commander Chris Tennant told The Spokesman-Review on Monday that the 22-year-old Luani became verbally abusive when his order took too long and then he struck the victim.
A third investigation that allegedly included multiple football players involved in a fight at a house party in July is ongoing.
"We are well aware of recent incidents involving Washington State football, including many details associated with each incident that have not been reported," Washington State director of athletics Bill Moos said in a statement. "We take such allegations very seriously and, as always, we will fully cooperate with local authorities. We intend to respect the legal process and all the rights guaranteed to everyone involved. Until the full legal process has reached completion, WSU Athletics will have no further comment on these matters. We believe such a position is most fair to all parties and best protects the integrity of the legal process."
Leach addressed all three incidents in turn when speaking to reporters on Tuesday:
"First incident. A brawl at a party, the whole room is involved. The room erupts in a brawl. Everybody's hitting everybody. The only guys accused of doing anything are football players. The only guys accused of anything are football players. Where's everybody else? What about the other 100 people in the room? What was their role?
"Second incident [involving Luani]. A football player is jumped and his shirt is ripped off. Jumped by five to six people and his shirt is ripped off, as he's leaving a place. As he's leaving a place. The only guy arrested is the football player. Only guy arrested. Unless he somehow single-handedly started a fight with six people.
"Third incident [involving Tago]. I don't know what happened. I don't know any of the details. It happened four months ago. Why didn't this surface four months ago?
"Unless we are supposed to believe that these football players fought themselves, then there are numerous other guilty parties. ... Comments to the media have distorted the facts and already condemned football players in the court of public opinion. Many of the statements are incomplete or totally false."
On Wednesday, Pullman police Chief Gary Jenkins told The Spokesman-Review he doesn't take Leach's comments personally, but is "sensitive that my staff might."
"I just want to make it clear that my staff hasn't done anything wrong in any way," Jenkins said. "But I completely understand where Coach Leach is coming from."
Jenkins went on to address Leach's issues.
In regards to the house party brawl, Jenkins said that preliminary investigation found two football players were responsible for the injuries, but "would agree with Coach Leach that there are other actions going on that are mitigating."
Jenkins said video shows Luani violently pushed the victim's head into a wall, and that if Luani was struck outside the establishment, "it could be seen as a fight he initiated," but others were also involved in the incident.
As to why Leach was not informed of Tago's incident until four months later, Jenkins said, "It's very possible that the information was not passed along to him," but his department always informs the school's athletic department when a player is under investigation.
Washington State opened the year with back-to-back losses -- both by three points -- to Eastern Washington and Boise State. The Cougars wrap up their nonconference schedule on Saturday at home against Idaho.