Investigation looks into prep opting for school that didn't recruit

Updated: February 5, 2008, 5:27 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

It looked like an American dream come true, but now somebody's going to experience a nightmare.

Students, television and newsprint reporters packed the gym at Fernley (Nev.) High School to hear offensive lineman Kevin Hart give a verbal commitment to play football at the University of California. He chose Cal over Oregon.

"They really sold me," Hart said, according to USA Today. "Coach [Jeff] Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind of gave me the real personal experience."

The only problem … neither Cal nor Oregon recruited Hart.

Now, it's a "law enforcement investigation," said Fernley football coach Mark Hodges, according to the newspaper.

"This is involving law enforcement and may involve other departments, other than the NCAA, that are bigger than local," Hodges told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "I would love to tell you everything I know, but I can't at this time and I'm not even sure what I know."

It was unclear whether Hart was duped by persons impersonating recruiters or if he was staging a hoax himself.

In a blog for the Reno newspaper, reporter Chris Gabel wrote: "But, I am told, the ending is not going to be pretty. Not for the kid, coach, school or town."

In a press release from the Lyon County (Nev.) school district, superintendent Nat Lommori and associate superintendent Teri White said that the incident is under investigation.

"Although only in a preliminary stage, the district's investigation to date has been unable to verify that Kevin Hart was ever offered an athletic scholarship or letter of intent to play football by the University of California, University of Oregon, University of Nevada, Washington University or Oklahoma State University. … The district will continue it's investigation into these serious allegations and will provide additional details, to the extent it is permitted to do so by law, in the future."