OLIVER MCKENNA | EVERGREEN PHOTO ILLUSTRATION
*Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include information given by Pat Chun during a Thursday press conference.*
Washington State head coach Mike Leach is leaving WSU to coach at Mississippi State University, Leach confirmed on his Twitter profile on Thursday.
Leach will replace former MSU head coach Joe Moorhead, who was fired Jan 3. after two seasons with the Bulldogs.
In December, the WSU Athletic Department said Leach’s contract was “extended through 2024,” according to a previous Daily Evergreen article.
Leach’s compensation for 2020 would have been $4 million and a one-time retention bonus of $750,000, according to the article.
During a press conference on Thursday, WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun said Leach’s contract has a $2.25 million buyout. This means another university has to pay WSU $2.25 million to break Leach’s contract in order to hire him.
Chun said he spoke to Leach a few days before he was notified that Leach was leaving for MSU.
“I left that conversation feeling we were in good shape,” he said.
Chun said he was under the assumption Leach was staying with WSU, but he believes Leach must have changed his mind sometime in the last 24 hours.
Chun said it was bittersweet when Leach later told him he was accepting the position at MSU.
“I enjoyed working with Mike and I’m happy that he’s able to take his career in a direction he wants to go to,” Chun said.
Leach met with MSU athletic director John Cohen about the coaching position last weekend according to Bo Bounds, a Mississippi sports radio host.
Leach’s departure leaves WSU with three empty coaching positions including defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator and head coach.
Chun said his goal in the search for a new head coach is to find the best person possible for the job.
“It’ll take however long it needs to take,” he said. “We owe it to our 2020 team and our recruiting class to find the best coach possible.”
Leach went 55-47 at WSU over eight seasons. He finished his last six seasons with consecutive bowl appearances.
Former WSU running back James Williams said Leach had “been trying to leave since [his] freshman year.” The tweet was later deleted.