Winona State head coach Mike Leaf, one of the most successful coaches at the Division II level, abruptly resigned from his position on June 26 after almost three decades with the program.
The university was investigating a complaint against Leaf, and on Friday evening, John Casper Jr., of the Winona Daily News, reported that a player had accused the coach of making drunken sexual advances. The player filed a complaint with the university a day after the incident occurred. Leaf resigned five days later.
The player spoke to Casper Jr. on the condition of anonymity, recapping a night that began with the player drinking at Leaf’s residence. Going over to the coach’s home was not unusual for those associated with the program, the Daily News reported, but the player said he felt pressured by the coach to drink. The player said Leaf was heavily intoxicated and made several advances toward him. The player gathered his belongings and left, only to be followed back to his apartment by Leaf.
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.
The player informed an assistant coach of the incident the next day. He has decided to stay enrolled at the university and remain a member of the basketball team, citing the support he received from the school.
Leaf had been with the program for 28 years, the last 17 as head coach. He led the Warriors to the 2006 and 2008 NCAA Division II National Championships with another national title game appearance in 2007. From Jan 13, 2006 to March 22, 2007, the team won 57 consecutive games.
Todd Eisner, a longtime NAIA coach, was introduced as Winona State’s new head coach this past Monday.