Maybe Mike Leach should stick to sports.
A rash of donors threatened to withhold millions in donations after Mike Leach, Washington State University head football coach, tweeted a fake video of a speech from former President Barack Obama in June, according to documents obtained through a Daily News public records request.
In the documents, several donors made it clear if Leach makes more “disgraceful” or “racist” comments, they will consider pulling back pledged donations and stop supporting the university.
Leach’s June 17 tweet stirred backlash on social media and was reported by multiple national media outlets. It also occurred the same week Leach sent an annual appeal to WSU fans to join the Cougar Athletic Fund and donate money to support WSU Athletics.
Timing is everything, Coach. How’d that work out?
The morning after Leach’s post, one donor threatened to withdraw a $1 million donation out of his or her will to the WSU Foundation if the university did not condemn the tweet. Several others followed suit. The foundation redacted the names of the donors.
“We are not happy with Leache’s (sic) racist twitter activity and are withdrawing our $1,000,000.00 plus estate proceeds we gifted to WSU in our Will (sic), unless there is a much stronger response coming from the University condemning his actions. Cougs are better than this and I am extremely upset by his actions and WSU’s tepid response,” one donor wrote in an email to the president’s office June 18.
According to an email from Trevor Durham, associate vice president for the office of strategic communications and donor engagement, to WSU President Kirk Schulz, the foundation identified at least 18 donors who required an email response in late July.
Public records indicate another 60 emails complaining about Leach were sent to the Cougar Athletic Fund – WSU’s fundraising arm for intercollegiate athletics.
In an Aug. 1 email from Raegan Harvey, Cougar Athletic Fund director, to Michael Connell, senior associate vice president of University Development with the WSU Foundation, Raegan wrote it was unfortunate Leach’s email went out after his tweet.
A donor emailed Jeff Pilcher, director of philanthropic engagement, saying he would rescind his $25,000 pledge to WSU and instead donate that money to his wife’s scholarship fund at Oregon State University.
“At this point, my estate plan calls for WSU to receive about 1.6 million dollars and I hope to keep my estate plan as is. However, this type of stunt is offensive enough to me that were something like it to happen again, I would be more than willing to rededicate that portion of my estate to Oregon State University,” the donor wrote.
“I will not give anything to WSU until Mike Leach is no longer associated in anyway with the university. He recently disgraced himself and the university by posting a patently false video that went beyond being merely despicable,” a June 25 email to the foundation read.
The WSU Admissions Office also received emails.
“You are supporting racism and the attack on facts by employing Mike Leach. And you are a university!!!! What is education without facts???” a June 23 email to WSU admissions stated.
And here I thought it was only ESPN and Nike that were suffering political backlash. Where’s Clay Travis when you need him, ‘Murica?