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The latest news and analysis on high-school sports around the Seattle area

February 6, 2008 at 5:13 PM

‘Duped’ recruit actually duped us

This just off the wire from the Associated Press:

RENO, Nev. — A Fernley High School football player who had claimed he was duped into believing he was recruited to play at a Pac-10 school admitted Wednesday he made up the story.

Kevin Hart, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman, offered a broad apology in a statement he issued Wednesday afternoon through the Lyon County School District. He said he had wanted to play football at a Division I school “more than anything.”

“When I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I made up what I wanted to be reality. I am sorry for disappointing and embarrassing my family, coaches, Fernley High School, the involved universities and reporters covering the story,” Hart said.

Lyon County sheriff’s detectives had said earlier Wednesday that they had been unable to corroborate Hart’s claims that he had been duped by a man he had paid to help promote him in his bid to play college football.

Hart spoke with deputies Saturday, a day after he announced at a school assembly and a press conference that he would sign with University of California, Berkeley.

At the announcement ceremony on Friday, Hart, with Fernley coach Mark Hodges at his side, said he talked Cal head coach Jeff Tedford many times, and that “personal experience” led to his decision to choose the Golden Bears over Oregon, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

But the announcement was questioned almost immediately, and on Monday officials with California and University of Oregon said Hart was never recruited by their programs.

Lyon County sheriff’s Lt. Rob Hall said Wednesday morning that “nothing has been corroborated.”

“There are some things that appear to be inconsistent with how the [recruiting] process works,” he said.

Hall said Hart had claimed the alleged recruiter was named Kevin Riley, and that he believed he was from Las Vegas.

Hart, however, was “unable to provide any phone numbers, addresses,” or other contact information for the purported recruiter, Hall said.

On Tuesday, Lyon County School District administrators said an internal investigation showed that none of the universities once thought to have pursued Hart — including Nevada, Washington and Oklahoma State — were involved.

Superintendent Nat Lommori and Assistant Superintendent Teri White, in issuing the statement the day before recruits across the country sign letters of intent to play for college programs, said they wanted to relieve concerns prospective recruits to those schools might have because of the Hart matter.

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