As soon as the Huntington (W.V.) Herald-Dispatch published its May 29 column reporting that new West Virginia head coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen had been involved in "as many as six" alcohol-related incidents in the past six months, the paper was rebuked by Mountaineer fans believing it to be exaggerating rumors and grinding an ax for local WVU rival Marshall.
We doubt officials at West Virginia reacted quite so vehemently. But they may not have been pleased all the same, as a report in today's Charleston Daily Mail cites a university source claiming the Herald-Dispatch report contains "blatant inaccuracies":
WVU sources said Tuesday and again Wednesday the university was reviewing the accusations in a Huntington Herald-Dispatch column from Sunday and an Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register column from the day before.Specifically, that "six" number appears to have been on the high side:
WVU was assessing the validity of the claims it believes are false. University officials were also determining whether a response to the publications would be necessary.
A WVU source said Wednesday the university will not take any action, but "knows the Herald-Dispatch story had blatant inaccuracies" ...
A source said WVU officials have not seen the video footage from Mardi Gras Resort & Casino, but have spoken with those who have and that WVU trusts their review that Holgorsen was guilty of nothing too severe. WVU officials also called the Wheeling Island resort and casino and asked about an alleged incident before spring football began.The Daily Mail story also disputes the Herald-Dispatch's accounts of Holgorsen's visit with Houston to Marshall in 2008 and the relationship between WVU AD Oliver Luck and president James Clements. So was the original column exaggerating, possibly even "rumormongering"? It certainly seems that way. (To be fair, it admitted that some of the incidents it was reporting were "rumors.") Holgorsen may not be -- is probably not -- as incorrigible as the Herald-Dispatch column (and subsequent headlines) have made him out to be.
Holgorsen - and many others connected to WVU - attended an annual party in Wheeling that eventually spilled into the casino, but WVU found nothing wrong in conversations with casino management about that party and the behavior of those in attendance ...
The Daily Mail made attempts at different times on multiple days to speak with employees and management at Wheeling Island and the Glassworks Grill at Oglebay Resort, which was the alleged site of a separate incident. No one - and no documentation - could confirm any incident at either spot ...
The Herald-Dispatch also said Holgorsen was involved in three undefined incidents at the bar in Waterfront Place in Morgantown and that he'd been banned from the bar.
"Absolutely not true," one source said. An athletic department source also denied the ban. Holgorsen has lived in that hotel since late March.
But does that mean this is a nonstory? No. The Daily Mail report appears to acknowledge that Holgorsen was involved with incidents of some fashion at two separate casinos, and the stern response from Luck makes it clear that this is an issue the WVU administration is taking very, very seriously. Holgorsen maybe hasn't been the out-of-control devil he's been made out to be in some quarters, but he hasn't been a saint in his time in Morgantown, either. Whatever the degree of improvement in Holgorsen's self-control that might be necessary for him to remain in charge at WVU, none of today's refutations change the fact that some improvement is required.