Recruiting snafu being investigated | SierraSun.com

Recruiting snafu being investigated

Steve Ranson and Thomas Ranson
Sun News Service

The Lyon County School District continues its internal investigation regarding the alleged recruiting of a Fernley High School senior by at least five Division I football programs.

The alleged recruiting violations involve Kevin Hart, a first-team guard in the Northern 3A and a first-team pick on offense on the All-Sierra Nevada team conducted by the Sierra Nevada Sports Media group.

Hart ” a member of the Fernley squad that defeated Truckee 28-27 in the opening round of the Northern 3A playoffs ” announced his intent to play for the University of California’s Golden Bears at a school assembly on Friday.

In a statement released Tuesday by the school district, officials are in the preliminary stages of their investigation by trying to verify if colleges offered Hart an athletic scholarship or letter of intent to play football at the universities of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Oklahoma State University. Representatives at each school deny that Hart was offered a full-ride scholarship or letter of intent.

“They (Lyon County School District) were trying to make sure that the universities involved were cleared of any wrong doing,” said Eddie Bonine, director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. “Everything’s good. For the completion of the thorough investigation, Lyon County will do it because some personnel may be involved. Now the timeline has slowed down in priority.

“They still have some more people to interview. They cooperated with the NCAA, hence with the press release that came out today (Tuesday). Now they’re going to continue with the digging.”

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Lyon County School District officials said in their statement they understand the importance of Wednesday’s National Letter of Intent signing date and want “to clear up any concerns prospective recruits to those universities might have as a result of the events that unfolded at Fernley High School since Friday.”

Donnie Nelson, public relations director for the NIAA, said Tuesday the issue doesn’t involve his organization.

“It might in the future,” Nelson said, depending on the outcome of the LCSD and law enforcement investigations.

“We’re going to try and take it as we can,” Bonine added. “Now we’re talking about a young athlete that we’ll need to be very careful with. It’s now attracted national attention (Sports Illustrated and the Washington Post have contacted the NIAA).”

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Department is continuing its own investigation.

“At this point, I don’t believe there was a con committed, and if it was, it wasn’t in our district,” said Capt. Tom Van Dalinda. “We’re still looking into it.”

Bonine said Lyon County received a final copy of the police report on Tuesday.

“On this particular case, that police report assisted them in sending out the press release,” Bonine said. “That’s a positive, and now they can put the pieces together of this mysterious puzzle.”

While officials at California and Oregon denied on Monday an offer was made to Hart, other universities mentioned by the LCSD statement have denied Hart was recruited.

“We were tracking him, but he was not offered a scholarship,” said Richard Kilwien, associate athletic director for communications at the University of Washington.

“He was not in our recruiting pool,” said Kevin Klintworth, associated athletic director for media relations at Oklahoma State University.

John Sudsbury, associated media relations director for football at Cal, said no new developments have occurred on the Berkeley campus regarding Hart.

He reiterated on Tuesday that Cal did not actively recruit Hart, and he doubts an imposter was posing on behalf of Cal’s coaching staff.

“I have never heard of an imposter doing this,” Sudsbury said.

A.W. Prince, senior writer for BearTerritory.Net, wrote in an article that no university football program had offered Hart a scholarship.

“Nobody knows if Hart was extended a scholarship by any school in the country whatsoever ” or that he has any opportunity to play at any school,” Prince wrote.

BearTerritory.Net stated it discovered Hart’s name was on Cal’s mailing list as a 2009 prospect.

Furthermore, Prince wrote, “We also know the Cal staff has had no contact whatsoever with (Fernley) coach (Mark) Hodges or Hart, and that they have not visited him; nor has Hart been on a recruiting trip to any school.”

Hodges has not returned numerous telephone calls.

Bonine said he has no idea when the situation will be resolved.

“Once it’s all said and done, the NIAA is education-based association,” he said. “We’re going to do whatever we can so that this incident doesn’t happen again to our state.”