Former WVU president David Hardesty denies claims in a recent New York Times article that he threatened then Mountaineer basketball coach Dan Dakich or that he knew WVU player Jonathan Hargett was getting paid.
Hargett played just one season at WVU, 2001-02. Dakitch was hired for the West Virginia job following the retirement of long time head coach Gale Catlett after that season.
Dakich claims in the article that Hargett told him he had been promised $20,000 a year for three years and that he had not been paid the full amount. Dakich claims in the article he was told by Hardesty, "If you go any farther with this, we’ll destroy you."
Hardesty remembers that conversation having a very different tone. Hardesty, who is still involved with WVU as a law professor, says he was still trying to recruit the coach and keep him in the position.
"The conversation that we had was like two ships passing in the night," Hardesty recalled while speaking on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline. "I thought the purpose of the conversation was to give him assurances that we would work with him to uncover what ever (problems) were there. I wanted him to stay at the University and we wanted to show that we would support him.
((Hardesty on Talkline))
"He was having second thoughts (about keeping the job) and I guess he though the purpose of the conversation was to see if I would react the way he wanted me to react. I don’t believe I threatened him. I don’t believe I used that term (destroy.) If that term came up, it was in a completely different context which resulted in a misunderstanding."
Dakich quit the WVU job after eight days to return to Bowling Green where he had come from. WVU. meanwhile, launched an investigation into the allegations that Hargett was receiving money.
"The morning after (Dakich) left we announced he had revealed to us some things to us that gave us concern," Hardesty said. "We established a committee to look into it. We used outside counsel and internal auditors at the University. We put the faculty representative on the group.
"We found there was some fire behind the smoke," he said. "We invited the NCAA in and they looked it over. We received sanctions but there was no proof at all that anyone here knew of or condoned the payments the student was receiving."
"I will flatly deny that I knew of any activity related to payments to Hargett or that I tried to cover them up or that I threatened him in order to cover them up," Hardesty said. "I had no reason to do that. My goal was to keep him and to run an honest program. I think the record speaks for itself during my years here."