We’ve got 19 of these things left before the football season kicks off, so we’re going to kick it into high gear and power through the rest of our journey into the dark abyss of Mountaineer fandom.
We’re switching our focus to basketball today, and talking about something we should actually all be thankful for. This one just goes to show that even when things look terrible, there’s a chance to come out far better on the other side.
Following Gale Catlett’s retirement after an eight-win 2002 season, West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong made what could best be described as an all-time blunder with the hiring Bowling Green head coach Dan Dakich. Perhaps he was intrigued by Dakich serving as an assistant under Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight during the Indiana Hoosier’s National Championship season, or that Dakich had posted an 89-57 record in his five seasons as the head coach of the Falcons. Regardless of the reason, the hire backfired spectacularly.
Dakich lasted just eight days before heading back to Bowling Green.
When asked why he made the decision to walk away from a five-year, $2.5 million contract to return to northern Ohio and $125,000 a year, Dakich alleged that during his initial evaluation of the Mountaineer program he uncovered numerous NCAA violations - most of which surrounded highly-touted guard Johnathan Hargett.
Dakich alleged Hargett informed him that he had been promised $20,000 a year by someone with ties to the West Virginia basketball program, and that he’d not been paid. Dakich later told reporters he met with then university president David Hardesty about the violations, and was basically told to cover them up or he would “be destroyed” - although Hardesty refuted those claims.
Dakich had not signed his contract despite being publicly introduced as the head coach, used his findings in an attempt to hold the university up for more money than what was initally agreed upon. Hardesty refused to change the financial terms of the contract, and Dakich walked away.
Following Dakich’s departure, West Virginia conducted an internal investigation into the his claims, and ended up self reporting violations to the NCAA. The men’s basketball program was not punished as a result, but Jonathan Hargett was banned from participating in WVU athletics because of his role in the violations.
The Mountaineers hired Richmond Spiders head coach John Beilein in April 2002. Beilein posted a 104-60 record over five season in Morgantown, and laid the groundwork for continued success with an Elite Eight appearance in 2005 and NIT Championship in 2007.
Dakich continues to apparently hold some ill-will toward the West Virginia program, and jumps at any chance to disparage the Mountaineers.
(Yes, I realize Dan kinda nailed this one. The point remains that he loves to trigger West Virginia fans at every opportunity.)
I’m sure Dan will find this article when he namesearches himself on Twitter this evening, so let me take the opportunity to thank him for everything. Addition by subtraction is a real thing, folks.