Stewart refuses to address smear talk

Embattled West Virginia football coach Bill Stewart broke his silence Wednesday but refused to address allegations that he sought to orchestrate a smear campaign against his future replacement, offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen.

Stewart told the Charleston Daily Mail he did not want to be drawn on "all that stuff."

"The only thing I’ll say is it’s being handled by (Athletic Director) Oliver Luck and the administration right now," said the 58-year-old coach.

It was Stewart’s first public comment since the scandal, which escalated Tuesday when Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Colin Dunlap said in a radio interview that Stewart had asked him to "dig up dirt" on Holgorsen.

The phone conversation between the beat reporter and Stewart was alleged to have occurred in December, just days after Holgorsen was hired from Oklahoma State to take over for Stewart as head coach in 2012.

The university is 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.

A Daily Mail report earlier this week stated that a separation agreement outlining the transition from Stewart to Holgorsen was on hold as the university looked into who was behind the claims about Holgorsen.

Stewart said Wednesday he was unaware of any such issues, adding that he is working under a contract that he and Luck signed on Nov. 17, 2010, according to the paper.

The settlement and termination agreement reportedly states that Stewart would be paid $375,000 beyond 2011 for "an alternative position of employment" at the university.

Stewart, who turns 59 on Saturday, has coached the Mountaineers since 2008, going 28-12 and leading the team to three straight bowl games.