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WVU's Stewart talks -- but not about leak allegations

By Jack Bogaczyk

MORGANTOWN -- Bill Stewart had a bagel and coffee for breakfast in a restaurant here Wednesday.

Beyond that, he was willing to digest nothing more than the upcoming football season.

Stewart, the somewhat embattled West Virginia coach who has been the subject of rampant media speculation over volleys he allegedly directed at his pending successor, said he would not discuss "all that stuff."

He politely but firmly said he would not answer any questions involving the controversy surrounding him.

"The only thing I'll say is it's being handled by (Athletic Director) Oliver Luck and the administration right now," Stewart told this reporter during a face-to-face morning meeting.

"Me, I'm excited about the 2011 season. We're planning for it. It's the utmost important thing. I've got a great staff; players are working hard, from what I hear, and I feel we have a chance to be very good if we come out of the blocks strong."

There has been speculation Stewart may not be around to coach the Mountaineers for a fourth -- and final -- season. The university is digging into reports that unsubstantiated stories about  WVU offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen have been spread from within the program.

Holgorsen was hired by Luck as WVU's coach in waiting, and he is to take over after Stewart's 2011 regular season as a lame duck coach.

Some wonder if what has allegedly transpired could cost Stewart his job sooner -- an issue Luck is said to be trying to come to grips with.

Asked whether he and Luck had met to talk about the allegations, Stewart said, "You'll have to ask him (Luck) that question."

On Wednesday morning, Luck reiterated what he said Tuesday -- that he wasn't going to comment on the matter beyond a three-paragraph statement he had issued.

In that Tuesday statement, Luck said he expected his coaches "to run a clean and honest program with the utmost integrity and professionalism. Anything less is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

Asked about the distractions of recent days, Stewart said, "I'm staying focused. We've got plans for this season. I want to make (his) last season a great one, but all seasons are special to me."

On another matter that has been floated in reports about Stewart's potential future at WVU, he said the contract he is working under is the one he and Luck signed Nov. 17, 2010 -- the coach's settlement and termination agreement.

There have been reports of an unsigned contract for Stewart. The coach said if that is the case, he is "not aware of it. I don't know what they're (the media) talking about there."

The liquidated damages payable to Stewart in that agreement total $1.125 million.

Stewart has a 28-12 record at WVU. He will turn 59 on Saturday.

He was headed from breakfast to a staff meeting about academics and upcoming camps before getting on the road to Parkersburg for a fundraiser for the 1100 Club, the Mountaineer Athletic Club vehicle that provides funding for private air travel in recruiting.

"The first wave of players come in here Sunday and start classes Monday," Stewart said. "Others come in the following Monday (June 26). We've also got three one-day camps scheduled for rising ninth graders through rising seniors.

"We're preparing for the season as we always have. I'm excited about what we can do offensively, excited about our coaches. We lost seven starters on defense so if we can put points on the board like I think we can, we can help the defense a bit through early in the season."

Stewart's contract includes $375,000 beyond 2011 for "an alternative position of employment" at WVU (although the monies are payable whether or not he chooses to stay).

Asked if he intends to coach elsewhere in 2012, Stewart said, "I plan on being here, in some capacity, maybe an ambassador, helping raise funds, whatever.

"My son (Blaine) is heading into his junior year at Morgantown High. He's a good student ... It's important to me he finishes there."

 

Contact Sports Editor Jack Bogaczyk at jackb@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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