Monday, August 20, 2012

Is Penn State the Tip of the Iceberg?

Pete Thamel at the New York Times has a revelatory story about Dan Dakich's stint as the head coach of West Virginia's men's basketball team. If you're like me, your first question is, "Dan Dakich was the coach of West Virginia's men's basketball team?" Yes, he was. But it is a bit like how Bobby Knight was once the coach of Wisconsin's basketball team—the marriage didn't last long. In Dakich's case, just eight days. But they were a tumultuous eight days, as Thamel reports:
Some of the most challenging items on Dakich’s list involved Jonathan Hargett, a top recruit from Richmond who had just completed his freshman season at West Virginia. 
Dakich said Hargett told him that he had been promised $20,000 a year for three years, and that he had not been paid the full amount.
So Dakich discovered that the WVU basketball team was not only promising to pay its players cash for playing, but that WVU didn't have the decency to actually come up with the money.

Dakich—whom I admire as a straight-talking (if sometimes dense) color guy on BTN broadcasts—went straight to the president of university, David Hardesty. Things, um, did not go well.
Dakich said he told Hardesty about Western Union receipts that seemed to show Hargett had received money in violation of N.C.A.A. rules. He also relayed Hargett’s comments that the university had not paid him money that had been promised to him.
Dakich recalls Hardesty telling him, “If you go any farther with this, we’ll destroy you.”
Hadesty calls Dakich's account "a gross exaggeration." Asked to clarify, Hardesty explained, "I didn't say I would destroy him. I said I would make his life such a living hell, that he would wish longingly for death. Come on, I was a university president, not a mob boss. I don't directly threaten to destroy people." To be clear, I made that last part up, but it is arguably less damning that what Hardesty actually said: "I did not intend to threaten him. At no time in this process did I do that. That would be so strange."

That would indeed be strange. It is hard not to note the lawyerly weasel words in Hardesty's explanation. (Sure enough, Hardesty is a law professor.) He does not say that he didn't threaten Dakich; he says he didn't "intend" to threaten him. Perhaps reasonable people can disagree about whether "we'll destroy you" is a threat or is so over the top that it can only be interpreted as an attempt at comedy. Either way, we can all agree that it was so, so very strange.

[Cross-posted at Adam's WI Sports Blog]

1 comment:

  1. I guess the law professor thinks that intent (to threaten as opposed to intent to speak) is a necessary element of whatever laws West Virginia might have about threats.


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