The story of the "recruitment" of a little-known Nevada offensive lineman took another bizarre twist Wednesday, with the player admitting everything was a hoax.
Kevin Hart, a 6-foot-5, 290-pounder from Fernley (Nev.) High, apologized in a statement issued Wednesday - National Signing Day - through the Lyon County School District.
"I wanted to play D-1 ball more than anything," the statement said. "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."
Last Friday, Hart committed to California in a ceremony at the Fernley High gym. Most of the student body turned out, as did two TV stations and reporters from a local newspaper.
During his announcement ceremony, Hart said he and Cal coach Jeff Tedford "had 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."
But there was one problem: No one from the school ever talked with Hart.
BearTerritory.net, a site on the Rivals.com network that covers Cal athletics, began to investigate the situation further. They learned that Hart had not been offered a scholarship by the Bears. After doing some more digging, they received scouting reports that the prospect was likely a walk-on at best.
Once other media outlets learned that Hart wasn't considered a prospect by schools he said were recruiting him, Fernley High coach Mark Hodges said the matter was "being investigated by law enforcement."
Saturday, sheriff deputies interviewed Hart, who told them someone by the name of "Kevin Riley" acted as a middle man in the recruiting process. A sheriff's report said Hart told a deputy that "Riley" told him there were scholarship offers available. Hart also told deputies he thought "Riley" was from Las Vegas.
Tuesday, Lyon County sheriff's detectives said they were investigating Hart's claim that he paid "Riley" to help him get a scholarship. "We do have a report of some sort of a recruiting deal with Kevin Hart," sheriff department Lt. Rob Hall said then. "There's a lot of facts that we're trying to run down to corroborate what he's telling us."
Then Wednesday morning, Hall said Hart had been "unable to provide any phone numbers, addresses" or other contact information for "Riley." Hart came clean later in the day.
After Hart's statement was released, Teri White, assistant superintendent of the Lyon County School District, told the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal that the district is continuing an internal investigation into the situation.