After a drawn-out two-year investigation, the NCAA is finally finished with Oregon. The Ducks didn't come away unscathed, but the punishment largely equates to slap on the wrist. For those who are catching up on how this breaks down, here is what you need to know.
What are Oregon's punishments?
Oregon will be docked one football scholarship a year over the next three years. Scholarship losses are pretty standard in terms of NCAA violations, but just losing one a year is probably a lighter punishment than most were expecting. But the big news is that the Ducks were able to avoid a bowl ban. This is enormous for them, considering this is a program with immediate national championship aspirations. The program will be under three years of self-imposed probation and suffer minor recruiting restrictions as well.
Former head coach Chip Kelly has been hit with an 18-month show-cause penalty, which essentially prevents him from working in college athletics until 2015. However, since he's already left for the Philadelphia Eagles, the chances of this penalty even affecting him are slim.
Ducks wanted to fine Chip Kelly $20,000 for the failure to monitor charge. But he'd already bailed for Philly by that point.— Rob Moseley (@DuckFootball) June 26, 2013
There are several other penalties that will mean less to the general public, which can be found in the full copy of the NCAA's report.
How did Oregon break a rule?
The Ducks ran afoul of the NCAA rulebook by paying Texas scout Will Lyles roughly $25,000 in exchange for influence with highly sought-after recruits, including LaMichael James (currently with the San Francisco 49ers) and Lache Seastrunk (who transferred to Baylor following the 2010 season). By taking that money, Lyles became a representative of Oregon in the eyes of the NCAA, which makes steering recruits to a specific school a no-no.
The representative provided cash and free lodging to a prospect and engaged in impermissible calls and off-campus contacts with football prospects, their families and high school coaches. Additionally, the football program allowed staff members to engage in recruiting activity, which resulted in the football program exceeding coaching limits. Both the former head football coach and the university agreed they failed to monitor the football program.
Can the Ducks do anything about this?
Why would they? They can appeal the decision, but there's very little chance an appeal to the NCAA over sanctions it imposed would be successful anyway. Considering they got off without a seriously damaging punishment that compares to what they recommended for themselves, they won't even bother.
So in the end, the only reason this case was decided now and not in Dec 2012 was because Oregon wouldn’t agree on one violation.— John Infante (@John_Infante) June 26, 2013
Is this a fair punishment?
That depends on your point of view, really. There's a camp that is upset -- reasonably so -- at the NCAA's inconsistency when it comes to punishing programs. Circumstances vary between cases, but the NCAA seems to be wildly vacillating between CRUSH KILL DESTROY and LIVE AND LET LIVE. It's frustrating, as the public has no idea what to expect.
On the other hand, this ruling gives hope that maybe -- MAYBE -- the NCAA will start punishing the bad actors responsible for investigations, rather than the programs and players that they've left behind. It's not fair to current Ducks to deprive them of a national title shot if they earn one this year because a guy who's currently in the NFL had some shady dealings with a "recruiting service."
How will this affect the season?
This shouldn't affect the 2013 season at all. Oregon's eligible for the postseason, so it can compete for conference and national titles. That was the Ducks' goal all along, and they're in the clear.
What about recruiting?
This shouldn't really affect recruiting, either. One scholarship is not a significant loss, so there won't be much of a change to recruiting strategy. The Ducks will also face some restrictions in terms of official visits (reduced from 56 to 37 for three years) and evaluation days (reduced from 42 to 36 in the fall and 168 to 144 in the spring, both for the next three years), but in the big picture sense, there should be little appreciable change for the Ducks on the recruiting trail.
Oregon penalties are minimal. Should have no major impact on recruiting.— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) June 26, 2013
How do Oregon fans feel about this?
It appears the reports of Oregon's imminent demise were greatly exaggerated.— Addicted To Quack (@AddictedToQuack) June 26, 2013
Net positive for Oregon -- uncertainty about sanctions can't be used against Duck recruiting, eval/visit limits hurt, no bowl ban HUGE.— Dan Rubenstein (@DanRubenstein) June 26, 2013
"wait for it.................................................... MUAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAA"
-commenter therealrhyno, Addicted To Quack
How do others feel about this?
Will Lyles to Y!Sports: "I agree with the NCAA's penalties against Oregon because the wrong people, namely the players, won't suffer."— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) June 26, 2013
Could rip COI for not hammering a school it caught paying a handler with a check, but they punished the people who did it -- not the kids.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) June 26, 2013
Wait a second… these Oregon penalties are harsher than you think. Include: "Public reprimand and censure." So bad, Ducks! BAAAAD!— ESPN_Pac12blog (@ESPN_Pac12blog) June 26, 2013
Like I said light penalties...— ParagonSC (@ParagonSC) June 26, 2013
Big day for people who can influence recruits.— UW Dawg Pound (@UWSBN) June 26, 2013
No bowl ban or anything drastic like that. While this is not all that surprising, it will likely add to the common public perception that NCAA is a joke. Maybe karma will come back and punish the Ducks later.
- from California Golden Blogs
Using the arcane, pseudo-legal codes of the organization, some arbitrary, weird, and mild punishments were made. Those punishments came as a result of paying a man to find and bring quality labor into a firm. The bylaws of this organization, and the franchise it protects, forbid this in any form save for "scholarships" provided to a "school. (See case of "Getting an easily annulled marriage at the door of a whorehouse vs. you totally paid for sex.")
Because the school--and every other school, and the hilarious cicada-shell of an organization clinging to the side of the sport--would like to keep up this legal front, they will accept the punishments. Did we mention the "case" and "punishments" are written in fake legal speak, and presented as a case? And that adults treat them like they're real, and worth reading, scrutinizing, or examining for any trace of a non-existent consistency?