Sunday's New York Times featured a lengthy story about Jonathan Hargett, a playground legend from Richmond who's now in prison on drug charges, years after his brief college basketball career at West Virginia never panned out. Hargett played at WVU in 2001-02, and an in-house investigation done at the time by the school revealed that he had received money, mostly from a runner for an agent.
The Times dredged all this up again because the newspaper got Hargett to acknowledge and explain the cash payments he received, and who the sources of that money were. Which, in turn, led The Times to Dan Dakich, an ESPN college basketball analyst who resigned just eight days after being hired as the Mountaineers' coach following the 2001-02 season. Dakich quit so quickly after discovering all of the problems he was inheriting, which including Hargett. Dakich's side of the story warranted a separate sidebar story in The Times, the thrust of which was this:
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. Dakich also said that Hargett said he was tired of people "owning" him.
After speaking with Hargett, Dakich approached David Hardesty, then the university's president. 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."
Wait. What? Hardesty brazenly threatened Dakich? How's that again? Dakich's wife was present for the exchange, and she vouched for Dakich's account even though Dakich said they're in the process of getting a divorce. Hardesty, who is now a WVU law professor, responded by telling The Times this:
Hardesty called Dan and Jackie Dakich's story a "gross exaggeration." He said he remembered the meeting as one where he was trying to keep Dakich at West Virginia.
"I cannot remember the words that were said," he said. "I did not intend to threaten him. At no time in this process did I do that. That would be so strange."
I did not intend to threaten him? That's not exactly a denial. Dakich, who also hosts a radio show in Indianapolis, had the writer of The Times stories, Pete Thamel, on his show Tuesday, and you can hear their exchange below. Thamel explained that he brought all these details up now to "show how the world works" within high-level youth basketball circles and to offer Hargett's story as "a cautionary tale" for other talented young athletes.
It's not known why Dakich never before said anything publicly about Hardesty's alleged threat. And it's unlikely anything more will come of this, since the NCAA's statute of limitations on any potential violations has expired. But Thamel did say this on Dakich's show about Hardesty's alleged threat:
"He has certainly been very careful to not directly deny saying that."
Which is just weird.
‘What Happened to Him?' [New York Times]
Landing in West Virginia, Dakich Checked the Exits [New York Times]