WSU Athletics Director Jim Sterk finally released a statement within the last hour on the NCAA sanctions against Eastern Washington University and current WSU coach Paul Wulff. His message in a nutshell?
It was Eastern's fault.
"We were aware, from our own research and Paul (Wulff), of potential NCAA infractions at Eastern Washington University during the time frame when Paul was the head football coach," Sterk said . "Due to the ongoing NCAA investigation, we were prohibited from commenting on the situation until after the NCAA Committee on Infractions concluded its investigation and released its findings. We feel now, as we did then, that this was an institutional issue with Eastern Washington University, which is supported with today's NCAA release regarding the situation."
He then went on to reveal that the university did in fact know about the investigation when it hired Wulff, and went ahead and reiterated his original point, just in case we missed the first time:
"During Paul's hiring process he was straightforward about these allegations," said Sterk. "We take these issues very seriously and believe Paul is a man of tremendous integrity and the situation derived more from a lack of institutional control at Eastern Washington, where limited compliance and academic staff were in place at that time. Paul was not found by the NCAA to have purposely violated NCAA rules in order to gain a recruiting advantage."
Wulff doesn't say the same thing directly, but he basically intimates the same thing:
"I understand the severity of the situation and at no time did I ever intentionally violate NCAA rules," said Wulff. "As head coach I take responsibility for the mistakes that occurred and accept the NCAA's penalties.
"I greatly appreciate the support of Washington State University, the athletic department and all Cougar fans throughout the past year," Wulff continued. "Now that I have been immersed for more than a year in the athletic department and the excellent compliance support it provides, I am confident situations such as these will never happen again."
Let's just say I wouldn't anticipate Eastern and WSU playing any athletic contests anytime soon after this little shot across the bow. But I do think Sterk has a very valid reason for handling it this way, which I'll talk about a little later tonight when I analyze what this means for WSU.