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Times article dredges up old, new issues

MORGANTOWN - A weekend report in the New York Times dredged up some bad memories for West Virginia's athletic department and administration.

More significantly, it raised some new issues, as well.

In an article by Pete Thamel, former Mountaineer Jonathan Hargett was profiled as perhaps the poster child for basketball prodigies gone sour. Hargett, who played his lone season of college basketball at West Virginia in 2002, is currently winding down a five-year sentence in a Virginia prison for possession of drugs with the intent to sell.

In the story, Hargett claims he agreed to play at WVU only because the school agreed to pay him $20,000 a year for three years. It also includes a claim from Dan Dakich - who famously became the school's basketball coach for eight days at the end of Hargett's 2002 season, only to walk away from the post - that former WVU president David Hardesty threatened to "destroy'' him, presumably if he walked away.

The allegations by Hargett are actually old, just with a new twist. Hargett was, indeed, paid while he was at West Virginia, although investigations by both the university and the NCAA concluded that the school was not involved. Hargett and his mother were being given money by a representative of an agent. The exact sums were never pinned down, but he was receiving the money via Western Union while in Morgantown.

The allegations involving Hardesty, though, are new.

"Soon after Dan Dakich took the basketball head coaching job at West Virginia in 2002, he sat down with a yellow legal pad and wrote a list of the issues facing the Mountaineers,'' Thamel wrote. "It became so long and daunting that he decided it was too much. Eight days after he was hired, he walked away from what he said was a seven-year contract offer worth $3.5 million to return to his old job at Bowling Green, which pays $125,000 a year.''

Hargett reportedly said not only was he being paid, he wasn't being paid what he was promised, the full $20,000. He said that former WVU basketball coach Gale Catlett and assistant coach Chris Cheeks, who had ties to Hargett and recruited him, were not "honorable men" because "they promised me $60,000 and only gave me $20,000."

"After speaking with Hargett, Dakich approached David Hardesty, then the university's president,'' the story said. "Dakich said he told Hardesty about Western Union receipts that seemed to show Hargett had received money in violation of NCAA rules. He also relayed Hargett's comments that the university had not paid him money that had been promised to him.

"Dakich recalls Hardesty telling him, 'If you go any farther with this, we'll destroy you.' ''

Hardesty denied ever threatening Dakich. And Catlett denied any wrongdoing, as well.

"I cannot remember the words that were said," Hardesty was quoted as saying. "I did not intend to threaten him. At no time in this process did I do that. That would be so strange."

Most of the people involved with WVU athletics in 2002 are no longer with the school. Hardesty is now a law professor and athletic director Ed Pastilong is retired, as is Catlett. Mike Parsons, though, was and still is the school's deputy athletic director.

Parsons told the Times that the investigation by West Virginia and the NCAA. "clearly shows there were no staff members involved."

"There was absolutely no hesitancy on behalf of the president or anyone else moving forward," Parsons said. "Clearly, Dan brought his concerns to the university and the university reacted on those concerns."

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

 


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