WSU football coach Mike Leach has yet to take advantage of the rule allowing graduates to transfer among college athletics programs without penalty, but he supports it, even as it makes his life harder this weekend.
Oregon comes to town on Saturday with starting quarterback Dakota Prukop, who received a degree from Montana State last year.
The Ducks (2-2, 0-1) are favored by two points over the Cougars (1-2, 0-0).
Vernon Adams was Oregon’s starting quarterback in 2015 after graduating from Eastern Washington, but did not play against the Cougars because of an injury.
The spirit of the rule is to allow players who graduate college early to transfer to another school that has postgraduate programs and degrees that their current institution does not offer. However, football considerations often appear to be the primary motivators for players who transfer.
“I don’t think graduate degrees are factoring in,” Leach said with his characteristically wry humor.
That said, Leach does not appear to need the excuse to think grad transfers are a good idea.
“What it is, essentially, is a reward for a guy that graduates,” Leach said. “Why not? The other thing, I honestly think it’s more motivation for a guy to graduate quickly.”
The graduate transfer rule has undoubtedly altered the college football landscape, and changed the fortunes of some of its most prominent teams and stars. Seahwaks quarterback Russell Wilson took advantage of the rule to transfer from North Carolina State to play his senior season at the University of Wisconsin, giving the traditional rushing power the NCAA’s single-season record holder in passing efficiency.
Whether or not its helping players achieve previously unattainable degrees, well, the skeptics have some good points. According to NCAA data compiled by the Chicago Tribune, only 24 percent of football players who make use of the graduate transfer rule end up earning a graduate degree.
No charges for SAFETY Luani
No charges for SAFETY Luani
Whitman County prosecutor Denis Tracy rejected a recommendation of second-degree assault from Pullman police, saying “no reasonable jury” would dismiss the notion that WSU safety Shalom Luani acted in self-defense during an incident at a pizza parlor in Pullman last month.
Although Leach had been sharply critical of police characterizations of the incident, he declined specific comment Monday after news of the prosecutor’s decision broke during the Cougars’ weekly news conference.
Three other WSU players, including starting nose tackle Robert Barber and prominent rush linebacker Logan Tago, face possible charges stemming from other alleged altercations during recent months.
Luani, Barber and Tago are expected to play Saturday against Oregon. All three played in the Cougars’ most recent game, a 56-6 rout of Idaho on Sept. 17. Washington State had an open date this past weekend.
Prosecutors announced their decision on the Luani case in a statement that was made available to the media but was addressed to the man injured during the incident on Aug. 24.
According to the document, Luani punched the man, Kyle Medina, but “no reasonable jury could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Luani was not acting in self-defense,” Tracy said in the statement.
Bill Moos, WSU athletic director, said the prosecutor’s decision corroborated the university’s stance on the Luani case, and he reiterated his intentions of avoiding specific comments about the other cases involving WSU athletes.
“We are pleased that the prosecuting attorney’s office came to the same conclusion as we did regarding this case,” Moos said in a statement. “While not always afforded the opportunity, I believe this illustrates the stance we have taken from the beginning which is to handle such matters internally, not speak in great detail, until the legal process has played out.”
The Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune contributed to this report.