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Holgorsen apologizes for casino incident

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.-- — West Virginia football offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen apologized Wednesday for an incident at a Nitro casino last week deemed "inappropriate" by Athletic Director Oliver Luck.

Security officials at Mardi Gras Casino & Resort called the police after 3 a.m. May 18 to have Holgorsen escorted from the building.

Holgorsen and a group of university representatives had arrived at the casino well after midnight after attending a Mountaineer Athletic Club function in Logan.

At some point later, Holgorsen was asked to leave and his subsequent behavior resulted in a call to Metro 911.

A police officer said Holgorsen was cooperative when he arrived. With assistance from the university representatives with the coach, he was permitted to wait for a taxi to take him from the casino.

"I learned a valuable lesson from this incident," Holgorsen said in a statement issued by WVU. He was hired from Oklahoma State in December to replace Bill Stewart as head coach beginning in 2012.

"As a football coach, I am always in the public eye, and I have to hold myself to a higher standard, which is what I ask our players to do.

"I'm sorry that this incident has put the University and the football program in a difficult position. I will not put myself in that situation again."

The Nitro Police Department responded to a 911 call from the casino at 3:13 a.m. because an apparently intoxicated customer was "refusing to cooperate with the casino's management," according to Metro 911 dispatch logs.

Casino supervisors had the customer detained after he declined to leave.

Patrolman Raymond Blake was dispatched to the scene and encountered a man who was identified as Holgorsen. Blake said Holgorsen offered no resistance.

"We got up there and spoke to the male and said, 'Hey, they want you to leave,' " Blake said. "He complied, walked out, sat out on a bench, waited for the taxi, and when the taxi arrived, he got in and left."

Blake didn't know what prompted the call from the casino. Repeated messages left at the casino have not been returned, including those to General Manager Robert Lagg, to whom all calls have been referred.

Sources told the Daily Mail Holgorsen and those he was with grew too loud and rowdy for the casino's comfort and were asked to control themselves before things escalated.

Blake said "that's a typical call we would get for somebody up there for a patron that they want to have escorted off the property." There was no arrest or citation and no field tests were administered to Holgorsen. Blake said Holgorsen was not handcuffed.

"The only way there would be a report of the situation is if he broke any laws," Blake said. "Because he didn't violate any laws and was very compliant, the situation was handled very easily."

The episode was captured on surveillance footage, but Blake said there was no need for the Nitro police to review the footage.

"He didn't commit a crime or anything like that," he said. "They wished that he be removed from the property, and he complied with that."

Luck investigated the matter on his own. While he provided no additional details, he said in a statement, "I believe inappropriate behavior did occur."

Luck was in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Wednesday for the third and final day of the Big East Conference's annual spring meetings, but left early. The early departure was not related to the incident, university officials said.

Sources told the Daily Mail Luck knew about the incident right away. WVU said Wednesday Luck left Florida so he could attend a rifle team benefit in Morgantown later in the day.

"Coach Stewart and I have made it clear, and will reiterate, that our coaches and staff are representing the University and the state at all times," Luck said in the statement. "We expect them to always display appropriate behavior."

Based on the statements — and Luck said he would have no comment in the future — Holgorsen will not be punished for the incident. The conditions of his employment do cover conduct and consequences.

He signed a term sheet in December that defines his duties and responsibilities over the next six years. It also outlines expected behavior and explains circumstances for "Termination for Cause by WVU."

That sections says if Holgorsen is fired with cause WVU has 30 days to pay him only the money he's earned and has not been paid for "base salary, supplemental and incentive compensation." WVU would owe him nothing else in liquidated damages — or a buyout.

The term sheet doesn't define what offenses can lead to termination with cause and says the two sides will work to determine "standard and reasonable" parameters before they finalize the still-unsigned contract.

In all other coaching contracts, the university covers situations involving standard offenses, including "willful misconduct and gross negligence in performance of


Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at or 304-319-1142. His blog is at


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