<
>

Nevada high school football recruit made up story

RENO, Nev. -- A northern Nevada prep 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 for Fernley
High School, offered a broad apology in a statement he issued
through the Lyon County School District. Hart 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 been unable to corroborate
Hart's claims that he had been duped by a man he paid to help
promote him to college football programs.

Lt. Rob Hall said Hart had not informed detectives of his
confession, and they would continue to investigate to see if Hart
had broken any laws, such as filing a false police report.

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

At the announcement ceremony, Hart, with Fernley coach Mark
Hodges at his side, said he talked with 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 the University of Oregon said
Hart was never recruited.

Hall said Hart had claimed that the alleged promoter he paid 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.

"Initially, we thought if this was in fact a hoax or something
Kevin came up with, maybe he was trying to put his name out there
and create some interest," Hall said.

"Or maybe he just thought it was going to be and when it didn't
happen, rumors started and it just got bigger and bigger and he
didn't know what to do. That's why we want to sit down with Kevin
and talk with him to get his perspective about what happened, where
did it start, when did it start," he said.

Hall said detectives will forward their investigation to the
district attorney's office to decide whether prosecution was
warranted.

Tedford said Wednesday he had never talked to Hart and the
Golden Bears never recruited him.

"It was total news to me, and it's unfortunate that that whole
situation is what it is," Tedford said.

"I've talked to other coaches who have had people saying
they've committed to their programs who they're not even
recruiting, and it just seems like this thing is getting so big and
egos are getting so involved ... people want to have an identity or
whatever. To get to that magnitude that I read about is really kind
of unfortunate," he said.

Oregon coach Mike Bellotti also said Wednesday the Ducks did not
recruit Hart, and that he had been contacted by law enforcement
authorities.

"Whatever happens, it's a shame," Bellotti said.

On Tuesday, 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
-- had contacted Hart.

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.

The school district's investigation was continuing, White said.