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Washington State says it lost $1.6 million in pledges after Mike Leach tweeted doctored Obama video

Washington State football coach Mike Leach cost the university $1.6 million in future donations over the summer when he tweeted a doctored video of a speech by former President Obama, marketing and communications Vice President Phil Weiler said last week.

In an email to the Lewiston Tribune on Wednesday, Weiler followed up on a comment university President Kirk Schulz made during a meeting with the newspaper earlier in the day. Schulz had estimated that Leach’s tweet had resulted in the loss of more than $1 million in pledged donations.

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Weiler’s email clarified Schulz’s statement.

“As the president mentioned, no one who had made a cash gift has asked for their money back,” Weiler wrote. “We did have five donors let us know that they had altered plans for their future giving, however. These were primarily estate gifts that would have been paid out upon the donor’s death. These planned estate gifts totaled $1.6 million.”

On June 17, Leach tweeted a video of an Obama speech that had been doctored to say, "ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs, but order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign," according to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Along with the video, Leach wrote in the tweet: "There is a lot of disagreement on government, so I think that an open discussion is always in order. Tweet your thoughts. Maybe we can all learn something."

After initially arguing with other Twitter users about the authenticity of the clip, Leach eventually deleted his initial tweet and wrote: "I agree that the video was incomplete. However, I believe discussion on how much or how little power that our Gov should have is important."

He also tweeted the complete text of Obama’s speech.

The Cougar Athletic Fund, which raises funds for the university’s intercollegiate athletics, received around 60 angry emails about the coach’s initial tweet on the matter, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported.

Schulz told the Lewiston Tribune:

“We put all of our head coaches and cabinet through social media training just to make sure people are aware that what they are doing often reflects on their job, not their private political views. At the end of the day, coach Leach is like anyone else. He can elect to do some of those things as a private citizen.”

Schulz also said that the donors who backed out because of the incident may later change their minds.

“What happens sometimes is people watch for six months, see how things are and then say, ‘Maybe on second thought, we’ll do this,’” he said. “So, I think it’s a little bit early to tell.”

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