West Virginia University football coach Bill Stewart will resign in the wake of a bizarre scandal in which he was alleged to have tried to orchestrate a smear campaign against his future replacement, the Charleston Gazette reported Friday.
Earlier reports indicated that discussions to buy out Stewart’s contract had begun Friday morning.
The talks were the first reported contact between Stewart and the school since Tuesday, when a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter revealed that Stewart had asked him to "dig up dirt" on offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen.
The conversation was said to have happened days after Holgorsen’s hiring.
Holgorsen was hired from Oklahoma State in December with the understanding that he would take over as head coach after the 2011 season. With Stewart’s departure reportedly imminent, Holgorsen is expected to take over immediately,
The university began this week investigating anonymous leaks to the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, which in a May 28 article stated that Holgorsen had been involved in "at least three and, perhaps, as many as six alcohol-related incidents in the last six months."
The university has said the story was filled with "blatant inaccuracies." The story came three days after Holgorsen issued an apology for an early-morning incident on May 18 in which he was asked to leave a West Virginia casino.
Stewart, who turns 59 on Saturday, has coached the Mountaineers since 2008, going 28-12 and leading the team to three straight bowl games.