Even without the $375,000, though, it appears that Stewart stands to walk away with roughly $1.175 million, even without a new buyout.
The decision to replace Stewart with Holgorsen ahead of schedule -- he was scheduled to assume the head coaching duties at the end of the 2011 season -- capped a frantic and awkward week for the WVU football program, during which Stewart was accused of undermining Holgorsen, whom Stewart was retained to mentor for a year before making the switch.
As it turned out, Stewart, who celebrates his 59th birthday today, unwittingly dug his own grave nearly seven months ago. That's when, at the time Holgorsen was being hired, Stewart reportedly asked at least two reporters to "dig up dirt" on Holgorsen in an attempt to defame him.
The alleged conversation between Stewart and the reporters remained secret until one of the writers, Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, related the story on a radio show late Monday night.
Luck apparently spent much of the rest of this week investigating Dunlap's charges and perhaps other incidents. He maintained Friday that he had uncovered little evidence of wrongdoing on Stewart's part, but felt a change needed to be made anyway.
"Let me make this clear: The university has not substantiated any allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Coach Stewart or his wife, Karen Stewart," Luck said in a written statement issued before Friday night's news conference. "The university will have no further comment on those allegations."
At the news conference, Luck steadfastly refused to elaborate.
"That's in the past," he said, "[and] we're focused on the future."
While Stewart did not return messages, Luck did quote him in his prepared release Friday evening.
"As I said on the day I was appointed head coach, what is best for WVU is my first priority," Stewart said. "Today, I am doing what I believe to be in the best interest of the Mountaineer Nation."
To make matters even more bizarre, Holgorsen, meanwhile, has had to deal with his own off-field issues. In May, he was asked to leave the Mardis Gras Casino in Cross Lanes at 3:20 a.m., allegedly after being cut off at the resort's bar. Holgorsen admitted a few weeks later that he had made some mistakes. He was reprimanded by Luck and the issue seemed to be put to rest.
Reports since then have attempted to tie Holgorsen to other alcohol-related incidents, but most were investigated by the school and said to be false. Stewart has been accused in some quarters of spreading those rumors, which, along with the allegations from December, have created a national stir around the program.
Stewart was named WVU's head coach in January 2008, hours after guiding the team, as the interim head coach, to a win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl after Rich Rodriguez quit and went to Michigan. In each of his three full seasons, Stewart's teams won nine games.
"As you can imagine, this decision did not come easily for either of us," Luck said. "Bill took over as interim head coach in 2008 and rallied a team, a university and a state when we all needed a champion. He guided us to three successful seasons. He mentored many student-athletes."
Reach Dave Hickman at dphickm...@aol.com or 304-348-1734.