BERKELEY -- On the eve of national signing day, Cal's football program found itself in the news because of someone it has no plans on signing.

Cal's athletic department was left scratching its collective head Tuesday amid reports that Kevin Hart, an offensive lineman from Fernley, Nev., had made an oral commitment to join the Bears. The problem is that the Bears barely know who the young man is.

Cal reportedly never offered Hart a scholarship. In fact, it's believed that the other schools Hart cited as finalists -- Oregon, Nevada, Washington and Oklahoma State -- never did either.

Hart evidently was the victim of a cruel prank, or has been pulling a prank on everybody else.

Colleges aren't permitted to talk about potential recruits until they have signed letters of intent, but they can acknowledge if they are recruiting a certain player. To that, Cal athletic spokesman John Sudsbury said. "He's not a player that we are recruiting or that we have recruited."

The story began Friday when Hart held a news conference at Fernley High School to announce he had selected Cal over Oregon. It was attended by the school's student body, as well as two local television stations and other media outlets.

While giving his reasoning for choosing Cal, Hart said: "Coach (Jeff) Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind of gave me that real personal experience.


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Since Cal said it has never recruited Hart, it is believed that means Tedford never has had a conversation with him.

The situation has turned into a legal matter. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, a police report was filed Saturday with the Lyon County Sheriff's Department. It's believed part of the investigation is whether Hart was duped by an impostor.

The Lyon County School District also launched an internal investigation and issued a press release Tuesday saying it "has been unable to verify that Kevin Hart was ever offered an athletic scholarship or letter of intent to play football by the University of California, University of Oregon, University of Nevada, Washington University or Oklahoma State University."

Hart's father, Richard, declined comment when reached by the Gazette-Journal. Messages left for Fernley coach Mark Hodges were not returned.

Hart is a former Antioch resident who moved to Fernley before his freshman year of high school.

Contact Jonathan Okanes at jokanes@bayareanewsgroup.com.