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Stewart asked writer for ‘dirt’ on Holgorsen

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen and head coach Bill Stewart are making unwanted headlines that has the Mountaineers athletic director re-examining his decision to have them work together.

Oliver Luck said Tuesday in a statement he doesn’t discuss personnel matters publicly. But with signs that the strained relationship between Holgorsen and Stewart is boiling over, when asked by KDKA-FM whether he would do the same arrangement again, Luck said, “I don’t know.”

Still, with two months before players report for fall camp, Luck is confident the program is in good shape despite what’s unfolded over the last few weeks.

“I’d be the last one to deny that we’re not in the middle of a little bit of a controversy,” he told the station. “We are having a little bit of drama and certainly we’ll try to get to the bottom of that. I don’t see much damage at all going into the football season because we can get all this sorted out, this summer certainly.”

An intoxicated Holgorsen was escorted out of a casino last month, but no charges were filed.

And Monday night, former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Colin Dunlap told KDKA that Stewart called him shortly after Holgorsen’s hiring in December and asked him to “dig up” some dirt on the new hire.

Dunlap said Stewart also called at least one other reporter on the issue. Dunlap said he discussed it with the other reporter, who he didn’t name.

Dunlap recalled Stewart saying, “’You need to get it out on this guy.’ And I said, ‘hey man, I’m not like a part of some witch hunt.”

Luck didn’t address Dunlap’s comments directly and neither Stewart or Holgorsen responded to messages left by The Associated Press.ww

This wasn’t the direction Luck had in mind when he said he was taking the program on another path when he hired Holgorsen away from Oklahoma State with plans to have him replace Stewart after the 2011 season.

Luck, Holgorsen and Stewart all promised a smooth transition.

It hasn’t been.

And with news reports appearing almost daily lately on either Holgorsen, Stewart or both, Luck said he needs time to sort out the facts before commenting on them.

“There have been various reports, much speculation, and rumor around our football program and coaches,” Luck said in the statement. “But I want to make it clear that I consider these to be personnel matters and while I take them very seriously, I am dealing with them internally and privately — and I will not discuss them publicly.”

Things appeared to escalate after police escorted Holgorsen from the Mardi Gras Casino in Cross Lanes on May 18. Holgorsen issued a statement a week later saying he had learned a “valuable lesson.”

WVU players said Tuesday they’ve been focused on summer conditioning and not the headlines their coaches were making.

“There’s been a lot of talking going on,” defensive lineman Bruce Irvin told WDTV-TV in Bridgeport. “We’re not focused on any of that. We’re focusing on winning the Big East and getting to a national championship. All the extra stuff is irrelevant to us. It is what it is. We’re not going to let it bother us.”

Luck said Tuesday his expectations of his coaches and staff haven’t changed.

“That is to run a clean and honest program with the upmost integrity and professionalism,” Luck said. “Anything less is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”