PULLMAN — Washington State’s Mike Leach, following the lead of Washington’s Steve Sarkisian and some other college football coaches, said Monday that any media member who reports on player injuries in practice will be blocked from interviewing WSU players and coaches.
Leach and WSU sports information director Bill Stevens said the policy was put in place last year, Leach’s first with the Cougars.
However, some media question whether the potential penalty for reporting injuries was clear cut. Practice injuries were occasionally reported by the media, and no one was cut off from interviews.
“I just didn’t catch it,” Leach said.
Leach did not cite a specific reason for objecting to the reporting of practice injuries. Some coaches believe injury reports may help opponents adjust game plans.
Many teams, including Washington, close practices most or all of the time to the media. WSU’s spring and early fall practices are open to the media (and fans), and even “closed” fall practices can be watched outside Martin Stadium or the Rogers Field practice area from nearby vantage points.
“The access around here that you guys enjoy exceeds, if not anywhere, nearly anywhere,” Leach said.
Before Leach’s arrival, virtually all WSU football practices were open to the media, and players and coaches were usually made available for interviews several days a week.
Leach only permits players to be interviewed after games, except for three players he selects for group and possibly one-on-one interviews Mondays of game weeks.
Leach and assistant coaches are usually made available for interviews after practices, and Leach conducts two weekly teleconferences during game weeks.
Leach said the Cougars “don’t hide behind injuries” and will continue to permit the media to report on injuries suffered in games.
Leach said “it’s illegal” for college coaches to talk about injuries (due to privacy laws), but some discussion of injuries is fairly common among non-WSU coaches.