Q: So let's just go back to the first day on the job. Obviously, everything with Tyler happens. What was that like walking into a university on your first day and having to just deal with all the emotions that were going on with that?
A: Well, as I reflect back on the first days or the first weeks here, it was more about just supporting our student-athletes and our staff and not creating any type of distraction. We're fortunate that we have great professionals within our athletics department and on campus. In a heartbreaking time for a lot of people on our campus, I was trying to just really make sure I did my part to ensure we took a couple steps forward, but really a lot of it was just letting our experts do their job. It was a tough time for Washington State, ultimately was a time that we had to figure out how to grow from it. Then in hindsight, seeing what our student-athletes have been able to do in terms of outcomes, in terms of making a difference, in terms of trying to create a climate where the voices that haven't been heard, maybe understand how important it is for us to listen. Strength is asking for help and just really seeing how this campus, and now our student-athletes specifically, have responded to try to turn heartbreak into something positive. You’re really excited about a lot of the initiatives that our student-athletes have created and really hopefully setting up Washington State where we can be a leader in this space.
Q: How has your guys approach towards mental health changed in the last year and a half?
A: I don't know how much it changed. I wasn’t around prior to a year and a half. I do know that Washington State historically as an athletic program has always been ahead of the curve in terms of student-athlete wellness, and what we offer student athletes. We've done some things. Added more full-time assistance, in terms of our counseling space, but if anything, I just know that because of what happened, our student-athletes were really focused on making sure that we're having dialogue. To make sure that whatever stigma may have existed shouldn't exist anymore. But it's a cultural thing at the end of the day that we just have got to make sure that we're always talking about. That it's okay not to be okay. Just making sure that hey, strength is asking for help and we're all here to help.
Q: I know that the Hilinskis have voiced some some disappointment in the fact that they feel like Tyler hasn't been as represented in this whole process. I know that you have your reasons as to why. The mental health professionals have said that you guys should make it as a whole thing and not just focus on Tyler. Do you have any sort of message for the Hilinski family?
A: Well, we were proud of all the things we've been able to accomplish this last year. One of the programs we were able to implement we partnered with Hilinski’s Hope bringing what's behind happy faces, and step up, a program that worked with some of our student-athletes and staff after one of our football games. His name, what he meant to this program, has never left us. He's been a part of Washington State every single day I’ve been here, where a day rarely goes by where he doesn't come in through your thoughts. Our heart breaks for that for the for Mark and Kym. No one should have to go through what they went through. Our team should not have had to gone through what they went through, but we did. Like anything we're trying to grow and learn from it and turn a situation into hopefully something positive. We talked about it. Our best way to honor Tyler is how do we prevent this from happening again on our campus. Unfortunately, it's the number two leading cause of death of college age students. We're at epidemic levels for suicide on college campuses. This is not a Pullman problem. This is not a Washington State problem. This is a national problem. And we’ve got to figure out how do we be part of the solution.