A player for Division II Winona State University alleges he was molested by former head coach Mike Leaf, prompting Leaf’s resignation.
The player, who was not named, told the Winona Daily News that Leaf, 54, made unwanted sexual advances after the two had been drinking at Leaf’s house on June 20.
The player filed a complaint with the university the next day and Leaf abruptly resigned on June 26.
The player provided a detailed account of the alleged assault to the News. He said he felt that Leaf pressured him to drink with him and the coach became severely intoxicated. The player also said Leaf made repeated attempts to convince him to stay at the coach’s house. Eventually, the player left Leaf’s house and walked to his apartment. He realized he’d forgotten his keys and sat against a wall while waiting for his friends to let him in.
The player said he “passed out for a few minutes” and woke up with Leaf standing over him. Leaf insisted the player go back to the coach’s house.
From the News:
The player hesitated. He didn’t want to return to Leaf’s house. But he wanted to take care of his coach. So he walked with Leaf home, holding Leaf up at times, he said.
The next thing the player remembered it was shortly after midnight and he woke up lying in Leaf’s bed, with Leaf breathing heavily in his ear. Leaf was touching his torso, his leg, his arm, and then began kissing his neck, the player said.
The player tried to rise from the bed, at which point Leaf held him and said, according to the player: “This isn’t what you think it is. You’re in my company. You’ll be fine.”
The player broke free, gathered his things, and tried to leave. Leaf approached him and suggested they should each punch each other. Leaf swung at him three times, and missed each time, the player said.
Then, the player said, Leaf began to cry.
“He said, ‘After all I’ve done for you and after all I’ve done for you guys.’” the player recalled. “He was calling us names. ‘I’ve done this for you, I’ve taken all of you in. This is how you treat me.’”
Leaf spent 28 years at Winona State, including 17 as head coach. He led the Southwestern Minnesota school to the 2006 and 2008 national championships and lost the title game in 2007. The team won a Division II record 57 straight games from January 2006 to March 2007.
The player said he will remain at the school and continue playing for the basketball team.
- Dan Gartland