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Originally published Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Sarkisian calls recruiting violations misunderstandings

UW coach says Huskies are not trying to push envelope with recruiting, will do everything he can to be in compliance with rules

Seattle Times staff reporter

It wasn't long into Steve Sarkisian's letter-of-intent day news conference — his first formal meeting with the media in more than a month — for the issue of his secondary recruiting violations to surface.

But it was Sarkisian who broached the subject, referencing it in a lighthearted matter when talking about how he and his staff will continue to be as creative as they can in recruiting.

"We're going to stay creative, and you guys will keep writing about us and the ways we are trying to be creative," he said. "But that's OK. That's our job. We need to keep these kids interested in what we are doing and how we are doing it and why we are doing it."

Later, after the official portion of the news conference ended, Sarkisian clarified what happened in the two instances and said he wanted to make it clear that the incidents weren't the result of intentional envelope pushing, but merely misunderstandings.

Washington self-reported secondary violations for renting a fog machine as players ran down the tunnel at Husky Stadium, which was ruled to be simulating a game-day environment; and for Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt holding a recruiting visit with a newspaper reporter and a high-school junior present.

"We want to be as compliant with every rule that we can, and that's where I think misunderstanding comes in, and that's exactly what it is," Sarkisian said. "This wasn't about we were trying to beat the rule or anything. We did something that they hadn't done here before [with the fog machine] and that was the extent of it. And [in the second incident] we walked into a situation where there were two people there we didn't know were going to be in the room."

Sarkisian said he and Holt told the Los Angeles Times reporter and the junior player that "we couldn't speak with them. But it turned out that wasn't good enough."

He also addressed the fact that three players who had been committed to UW when he took over ended up elsewhere, two claiming they had been told their scholarship offer was no longer valid.

Sarkisian noted that one player (Aaron Grymes of West Seattle) had been injured, and that another (Grant Cisneros of Sumner) never officially committed to the coaching staff. Kenneth Pinkard of Dallas also was an early commit who instead ended up at a local junior college.

Sarkisian said offers to players that the coaches believed were officially committed to the previous coaching staff were honored, while saying that the coaches held discussions with each player to lay out what might be the best course for their futures.

"We went with the best decisions we could make and what was best for the program and the university and we move forward," he said. "I think one of the best things we did with all of these guys was we weren't wishy-washy with the kids. We were straightforward and upfront with them and made it clear so they could do the best things they could do for themselves."

Grymes committed to Idaho, and Cisneros to Central Washington.

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Notes

• Spring practice will begin March 31, with the Spring Game on April 25.

• Sarkisian said QB Jake Locker's recovery from a broken thumb is on schedule and he should have no problem making the beginning of spring practice.

• Sarkisian said the team already had about 20 offers out to players for the Class of 2010.

• Asked the best adventure of the recruiting season, Sarkisian said there was one day where he and another coach visited Oahu, Hawaii and Maui, then took a red-eye flight home.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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