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WVU: The Dakich saga doesn't matter

MORGANTOWN - So today is Day Four of the Dan Dakich v. David Hardesty Saga That Isn't Really a Saga.

I'm sorry, but it seems little more than the product of two people who, though it happened more than 10 years ago, were still adults when it started in 2002.

Right now, you have two people trading versions of a story over a couple of radio stations. It's a silly war of words with serious implications that someone needs to address.

If what Dakich alleged over the weekend in a New York Times article is true and Hardesty, then the West Virginia University president, threatened to "destroy" Dakich for leaving the Mountaineers a week into his stay, then shame on Hardesty.

But shame on Dakich, too, for not throwing a public fit about such treatment the moment it happened.

If Dakich were threatened, two things should have followed: He should have tossed Hardesty's office upside down, and he should have called the New York Times. And the Dominion Post. And the Daily Mail. And CNN. And ESPN. And Telemundo.

Yet he didn't. This is a man who has hosted a radio sports talk show for years now. He paraded around college basketball 10 years ago explaining his very understandable reason for ditching WVU. Did he never once in between think the alleged threat was worth mentioning?

I could imagine an angry Hardesty lashing out at a tense time. I could see Dakich falling victim to the moment and embellishing a little in an emotional recounting of the events of 10 years ago. And I can understand the widespread skepticism directed at both.

Dakich said on his ESPN talk show in Indianapolis on Tuesday that he didn't remember if punches were thrown in a weight room incident where he said he "went off." And that was after subjecting players to some very arcane discipline in his brief time on campus. But really, who among us hasn't forgotten a rebellion?

Hardesty a day earlier was about as straight as a question mark in presenting his version of events. "If the term 'destroy' came up, it was in a completely different context," he said on the MetroNews Talkline show.

Who's right and who's wrong? I just don't know. And I'm not even sure I care as a beat writer covering the WVU athletic department. And nor should any fan of WVU's athletic department. This isn't something Athletic Director Oliver Luck or Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Keli Cunningham should sweat.

Nothing Hardesty is alleged to have done is an infraction today, nor would it have been then. Unethical? Immoral? Brutish? Sure, but nothing that was going to get WVU in trouble with the NCAA.

There is a concern that should be exorcised by Jim Clements, the current university president, and Joyce McConnell, dean of the law school. Hardesty is a full-time professor in the law school who teaches, among a few subjects, ethics.

Clements and McConnell and whomever else they appoint could look into this and figure out what is true and false. They owe it to themselves, they owe it to law students, they owe it to Dakick and they especially owe it to Hardesty.

The Saga That Really Isn't a Saga may yield a larger issue. WVU could get another visit from the NCAA about what Jonathan Hargett alleged in a separate Times story. He said that WVU promised to pay him while he played for the school and that the Mountaineers did just that.

WVU and the NCAA cooperatively investigated this before and agreed the school was an unknowing victim of outside forces that paid Hargett before and while he was at WVU. So minor were WVU's misdeeds that the school sought to have eligibility restored for three players it ruled ineligible. WVU was successful for all three. None of the wins from the 2001-02 season were vacated, even though Hargett was the key player in some of those games.

The Mountaineers suffered no scholarship losses or postseason bans.

The situation was stable enough that John Beilein, who had a spotless record and a pristine reputation for ethics, decided to make his first move into major college basketball by taking the WVU job. That was all of seven days after Dakich left and revealed the NCAA infractions.

By then WVU could fully explain things to Beilein, who knew he couldn't afford a misstep in his career path. The day he was hired, he said it "doesn't scare me at all."

The NCAA has a way around the four-year statute of limitations and now has one year to again look into the situation if it chooses to do so. It's hard to imagine what could possibly come of that, even with Hargett's heretofore undisclosed revelations.

Let's not complicate things but instead focus on this: The NCAA interviewed Hargett and his mother before and they either shared the accusation about payments and the NCAA found nothing to it, or they didn't share the accusation and he has now created a credibility problem.

Still, the NCAA could revisit the case. WVU officials will hope it doesn't happen but realize it's possible.

It would seem hard to expose a problem now that wasn't uncovered 10 years ago.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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