My thoughts on what has been going on around Winona State and the Mike Leaf situation.
As a recent graduate of Winona State, I have always loved being down there. I’ve even been trying to find a weekend or time to go back there and meet up with some old college buddies.
I’ve never really had anything bad to say about the university during my four years there, but after men’s basketball coach Mike Leaf resigned all of a sudden, and a current player came forward saying that Leaf had made drunken sexual advances towards that player, my perspective began to change.
It really began to change when the Post Bulletin reported that former player John Smith had said he and other players, as well as a player’s parent, came to athletic director Eric Schoh about Leaf’s drinking problem. It was also reported that Leaf was arrested for DWI in 1998. According to the police report obtained by the Post Bulletin, Leaf was found unresponsive at the Hardee’s drive-thru in Winona on Oct. 19, 1998. The police report said Leaf told the arresting officer: “This is going to mess it all up. You know who I am? You know what this is going to do?”
When Smith came forward and said he and others had come to Schoh about the problem and nothing was done, that’s the problem.
If Schoh and other administrators knew about Leaf’s drinking problems and chose to ignore it, maybe they shouldn’t be holding a job either.
Leaf brought a culture of success to the men’s basketball program at Winona State. Leaf brought two NCAA Division II National Titles in 2006 and 2008, and almost a third in 2007. Leaf also led the Warriors to a Division II record with 57 straight wins.
So, was winning games and making money more important than the safety and reputation of the university as a whole?
Again, I have never really had anything bad to say about Winona State as a whole. I loved the campus. The staff there was helpful and really cared about the students.
But if Schoh and other administrators knew about Leaf’s drinking problem and chose to ignore it because he’d win games, then I may not be as proud to be a Winona State graduate as I thought I would be.
A great basketball program is definitely one of the reasons I looked into attending Winona State. Who wouldn’t want to go to a college with a great basketball team?
But with what has happened this last month or so, Winona State has a lot of explaining to do, especially Schoh.
It was reported that Leaf showed up to a game under the influence of alcohol and sometimes practice would be cancelled as well.
Winning games is important to any program. But when winning becomes more of a priority than player safety and you have the knowledge and ability to keep your players safe and choose to ignore it, that’s where the line is drawn.
Recently an outside investigator was hired to investigate this situation with Leaf and find out everything.
Schoh and administrators should tell exactly what they knew and own up to it, if they chose to ignore this issue that put a player in harm. Do the right thing, Winona State. Put yourself back in the light in which an alumni would be proud to say they are a graduate of Winona State, because currently, you have one less who isn’t so proud.