|Pruett denies involvement; Tynes recants|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 20 August 2008 12:07|
One of the former players who accused Pruett in a sworn affidavit has since recanted his statements.
Pruett gave a sworn deposition in May in a federal lawsuit filed by David Ridpath, Marshall's former NCAA compliance officer.
Former strength coach Mike Jenkins said in an earlier deposition that Pruett assured the football staff at a spring 1999 meeting that several players would be eligible for the 2000 season because they were assured of perfect grades in a physical education class.
Pruett indicated he never said that.
``I don't know why he would give this statement ... unless he just misunderstood or misremembered,'' Pruett said.
Pruett ``vigorously'' denied Jenkins' contention that Pruett and others on his staff initiated the academic fraud.
Volunteer assistant strength coach Bruce McAllister gave seven athletes copies of final exam answers before the actual test was given. The NCAA's 2001 report said when McAllister's action was exposed to other students in the class, the professor gave everyone an ``A'' in the course.
Pruett said McAllister came to his home and said he gave the test.
``I said, 'Well, you can't be with our program, you've put our program in harm's way,''' Pruett said.
Two players also implicated Pruett in earlier affidavits in a booster's high-paying summer jobs program for freshman players who were not academically qualified to participate in athletics.
Linebackers Sam Goines and Charlie Tynes didn't qualify for scholarships during their freshman seasons. NCAA bylaws prohibited them from receiving work benefits arranged by the school during their first year.
Goines and Tynes said Pruett told them during their recruitment that jobs would be available to them upon their arrival at Marshall. Both players said they were paid $25 an hour but were forced to sign documents at Pruett's direction indicating they were paid $12.50 per hour.
Tynes, who doesn't have a published telephone number, recanted his statements in an interview Wednesday with West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
``He never said to do that,'' Tynes said. ``I never even went into his office to sign any papers dealing with this whole incident.''
Tynes also said Pruett never mentioned promises of an awaiting job.
``I've never been to Coach Pruett's office period as far as anything dealing with a job. He's never approached me about a job,'' Tynes said. ``I never asked him about a job.''
When asked why he gave a sworn affidavit that includes false information, Tynes said, ``I may not have understood everything that I did sign off on.''
Goines said he was told that if he didn't sign the document, he couldn't play. When Pruett was asked if there would be a reason that Goines wouldn't provide truthful testimony, the former coach said Goines was upset about a lack of playing time during his senior year that hurt his consistency on the field.
The NCAA suspended Goines for one game and Tynes for four during the 2001 season.
Pruett denied direct involvement in the 2003 firing of Ridpath, who claims he was made a scapegoat after the university was placed on four years probation and was stripped of some football and basketball scholarships.
Pruett said he believes the NCAA infractions were a factor in whether he would be considered for head coaching openings at Kentucky, Kansas, Temple and Mississippi.
When one of Ridpath's attorneys pressed him about university-related issues, Pruett said he retired in 2005 after nine seasons as Marshall's winningest coach for family reasons.
``My brother was dying of cancer. I wanted to see him,'' said Pruett, who was hired this season as defensive coordinator at Virginia. ``My grandson was a junior in high school. I wanted to watch him play. I wanted to help my son coach. It was just time. It was of my own volition.''
Ridpath's lawsuit seeks $1 million in damages and is set for trial in October in Huntington.
Information from: West Virginia Public Broadcasting, http://www.wvpubcast.org