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The NCAA let Oregon off the hook. Was it a reasonable response to a program where the bad actors have already left, or a cowardly move that will only encourage further improper behavior?
After the Oregon Ducks and Chip Kelly waited nearly two years to hear how the NCAA would punish the Ducks for improper recruiting practices, sanctions were finally revealed.
The former Duck head man apologized for his role in the scandal that brought sanctions to the Oregon football program, a far cry from his original stance on the issue.
The minimum you need to know about the punishments the NCAA's hit Ducks football with.
After two years -- and the departure of almost every person involved in the 2011 recruiting scandal -- Oregon has finally learned the scope of its NCAA sanctions.
The long and winding road that leads to Oregon's NCAA sanctions is apparently nearing its end: the school and former coach Chip Kelly met with the NCAA infractions committee, and the school will find out its punishment before next season.
Oregon agreed that the school committed major violations, but there is disagreement on one point.
The NCAA's Oregon decision, whenever it arrives, will punish exactly as many responsible people as its other recent major judgments.
Mark Helfrich's new contract as Oregon's head coach has far-reaching clauses about how the coach is supposed to handle potential NCAA violations.
The Oregon Ducks' attempt at ending the infractions involving recruiting adviser Will Lyles via a summary disposition appears to have failed, Yahoo! Sports is reporting.
You know how every month or so for the last five years, some Arrested Development cast member would say something about getting the show going again, and the Internet would light up? Waiting for Oregon's NCAA punishment has been kind of like that. Every few weeks, somebody reports THE END IS NEAR and then nothing happens.
As you were, then, because the latest swell of emotion on the Ducks getting walloped within the next few days has led to nothing.
Talked to someone in the Oregon football program and they said Oregon has not been informed of any NCAA penalties yet.— Paulie Pabst (@PaulPabst) August 15, 2012
My guess: Oregon has received the Notice of Allegations, it is bad, and people are guessing penalties from that.— John Infante (@John_Infante) August 14, 2012
It wouldn't be that hard to infer penalties could involve a loss of scholarships and a brief bowl ban at the worst, but there doesn't appear to be reason to believe we'll be finding out this week.
The Oregon Ducks athletic department released a document on Friday that states the school's football program did not follow NCAA regulations related to recruiting during the last four years.
The NCAA had been investigating Oregon over its recruiting practices, in particular the football program's relationship with scouting service provider Will Lyles and other people like him. Lyles has said publicly that the school paid him $25,000 for "access and influence" with recruits, which is an NCAA violation.
In total, Oregon paid $45,245 to "at least three" recruiting services like Lyles.
Via The Register-Guard:
In a statement of "proposed findings of violations" submitted by the NCAA to the athletic department, the Ducks acknowledged the use of three scouting services in ways that did not conform with NCAA rules, and to exceeding the permissible number of coaches involved in recruiting at any one time.
The most damaging aspect of the statement is that both the NCAA and Oregon "agreed that from 2008 through 2011, the scope and nature of the violations ... demonstrate that the athletics department failed to adequately monitor the football program’s use of recruiting or scouting services."
The documents were released following a public records request by various news outlets.
Also noted in the document is news that Oregon exceeded limits on the number of coaches allowed to recruit at any one time, during the years 2009-11.
The school has not received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA as of Friday and there is no mention of penalties or self-imposed sanctions.
Follow along as this story develops here and at Oregon blog Addicted To Quack.
When Willie Lyles said the Texas Longhorns should've employed Complete Scouting Services, you might have thought he was just joking. Actually, he might have been clarifying which _____ Scouting Services outfit Texas should've spent their money on. According to ESPN's Mike Fish, the Horns paid Lyles' Elite Scouting Services $15,000 for a one-year deal beginning in July 2008.
That readies a red flag or two due to Lyles' rep, but here's part of the bigger revelation on where some of that rep might've come from:
Lyles, who did not return calls for comment, has previously accused Texas of leading a campaign against him because he refused to push players toward the school. The documents -- including email exchanges between coaches and staff, as well as boosters and friendly media types -- clearly indicate UT was eager to play a role in exposing Lyles.
Media accounts tying Lyles to other college programs routinely were exchanged via email among the UT athletic staff, often originating with head coach Mack Brown.
Going back through the timeline, it is apparent that Lyles' name went sour among Texas media outlets far sooner than it did elsewhere. Whether that's because they'd become more familiar with his doings than others had or because of grand conspiracies, we'll just have to wait and see, won't we?
Running back Lache Seastrunk transferred from the Oregon Ducks to become a member of the Baylor Bears in August following the fallout of the Willie Lyles investigation and unhappy with his playing time. He petitioned the Big 12 and the NCAA to be able to play immediately despite the transfer, citing his grandmother's health.
Thursday, the NCAA officially denied that appeal, meaning that Seastrunk will have to sit out the 2011 season.
The Temple, Texas, native and University of Oregon transfer will have three years of eligibility to play three seasons when he takes to the field for the 2012 Bears. Seastrunk redshirted as a true freshman at Oregon a year ago.
Not a big shock given the circumstances.
Seastrunk was a five-star recruit when he chose Oregon two years ago. Hopefully, he can now stop making news off the field and start making news on it.
For updates on Baylor, visit SB Nation Dallas.
Ah, Lache Seastrunk. The most tantalizing college football recruit in all the land, he must have been. The former Oregon Ducks and current Baylor Bears running back, who was part of the original Willie Lyles scandal, has gotten the Tennessee Volunteers involved as well.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Rand Getlin, Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel, former Vols secondary coach Willie Mack Garza "wired $1,500 to a talent scout in July 2009, funding the airfare for an unofficial recruiting trip by then five-star prospect Lache Seastrunk and his mother."
Of course this occurred during the Lane Kiffin administration, and of course Garza followed Kiffin to the USC Trojans. When last we heard of Garza, he was resigning from USC amid reports that he'd been involved with Willie Lyles. So, yep. One more Kiffin mess for the Vols to clean up.
Still, Vols blog Rocky Top Talk is confident UT's hands are clean here:
Didn't the NCAA essentially conclude, in part anyway, that Tennessee was in the clear for the actions of its former employees operating outside the scope of their employment (I doubt "violating the NCAA rulebook" is in the job description) because all of those wrongdoing employees were no longer employees? Didn't they pretty much conclude that the better philosophy is to have coaches' wrongs follow coaches? Heck, Garza not only is no longer employed by Tennessee, he's no longer employed by Kiffin at USC.
For more, visit Tennessee blog Rocky Top Talk.
Something is not right with the college football world <-- bold. As schools and conferences battle over such prizes as Syracuse football while there are actual games being played on actual fields, the NCAA picks a Saturday to send a letter of inquiry to the Oregon Ducks.
This, of course, proves the NCAA hates you. Or that Oregon was smart about when to let everybody know it had received the notice. Whatever, Oregon.
This isn't a surprising step in the NCAA's investigation into Oregon, but it's an important one. Essentially, the NCAA has informed Oregon an investigation is underway. We'd already known Willie Lyles had met with NCAA investigators about Oregon, so it's pretty much not news at all. But formalities are formalities, let's get ready for more on this story, and let's get back to enjoying our Saturdays.
For more on the Ducks, head to Oregon blog Addicted To Quack.
When USC secondary coach Willie Mack Garza abruptly resigned with no explanation other than "personal reasons," speculation began to swirl about the actual reason for his resignation. According to reports, Garza's resignation is tied to Willie Lyles, the man at the center of an NCAA recruiting investigation stretching from Oregon to LSU and back to California.
CBS Sports' Bryan Fischer had the news, which explained the timing of Garza's departure.
Lyles interviewed with NCAA investigators for several hours with his lawyers present on Tuesday. During the interview, Lyles revealed that he had a "relationship" with Garza prior to becoming an assistant at Tennessee according to sources. USC officials were notified on Wednesday of the connection and moved swiftly to work out Garza's departure.
Believe it or not, this is actually a proactive move by USC. Garza's relationship with Lyles has reportedly been a lengthy one, and the Trojans may not be facing any kind of discipline here. However, with Lyles singing to the NCAA in a broad-reaching investigation, having an assistant coach with ties to him is a messy situation.
As Fischer said, Lyles spoke with the NCAA Tuesday and was reportedly honest and candid. What was told is unknown, but he appears to be fully cooperating at this time. And it could be bad news for schools implicated in the recruiting probe.
For more on Garza's resignation and the Trojans, head over to Conquest Chronicles.
Ahead of Saturday's matchup between the LSU Tigers and Oregon Ducks, we sat down with two of our SB Nation bloggers to gather their thoughts.
You couldn't write a script like this if you tried. Willie Lyles, the man at the center of an investigation into the recruiting practices of the Oregon Ducks and others, and Josh Luchs, the man at the center of Sports Illustrated's Confessions of an Agent, got together before Lyles' Tuesday meeting with NCAA investigators. Lyles, apparently, sought out Luchs in an effort to pick his brain and prepare for his NCAA date.
What followed was a series of tweets from Luchs, trumpeting his involvement with Lyles while hyping up the information he heard.
Spent yesterday helping prep @willieLyles 4 his NCAA tstmny 2day. Some big time schools/coaches have some major explainin 2 do.
Think what u want of @willielyles but he has very solid documentation & now the NCAA has it all! Took guts 4 him 2 tell complete truth.
2 b clear. My involvement w/ Lyles is limited 2 directing him 2 good lawyers & encouraging him 2 tell entire truth . He was big help 2 NCAA
It sure sounds like Luchs is serving as a hype-man for Lyles.
At this point, what Lyles told the NCAA and what documented proof he has is anyone's guess. Between the Yahoo! investigation and disclosures from the schools involved, it would appear we've already seen quite a bit of his story. But from Luchs' tweets, one has to wonder if Lyles has even more up his sleeve or where this investigation is going next.
For more on the Ducks, head over to SB Nation's Addicted to Quack and SB Nation Seattle. To read the latest on the ongoing Oregon recruiting scandal, keep up with this StoryStream.
Willie Lyles met with NCAA investigators early Tuesday afternoon to further discuss his involvement with the University of Oregon and head coach Chip Kelly, according to reports. The Houston-based scout announced the news on a podcast with Yahoo! Sports' college football reporter Dan Wetzel, which was later confirmed by The Register-Guard's George Schroeder.
Lyles told Wetzel he expects "they want to ask some different questions than they did in the first interview."
Lyles is the key facilitator in an NCAA investigation that implicates both Oregon and LSU for procuring illegal recruiting services. He previously met with NCAA investigators in May, answering numerous questions over the course of a six hour interview.
The now-notorious scout also informed Wetzel that he provided LSU explicit knowledge on movements of specific Texas high school recruits under the guise of a junior college package for the states of California and Kansas, as a method to skirt NCAA rules regarding a school's ability to acquire a single package per state.
For more on the Ducks, head over to SB Nation's Addicted to Quack and SB Nation Seattle. To read the latest on the ongoing Oregon recruiting scandal, keep up with this StoryStream.
It's a bit confusing to follow the saga of Russell Shepard, but hours after LSU announced the wide receive was ruled ineligible, we do have some clarity. With two investigations that could have put Shepard's eligibility in question running simultaneously, it was unknown whether the ruling came down because of a summer housing arrangement or because of Willie Lyles.
Technically, it was neither as Shepard lost his eligibility for speaking to a teammate before meeting with NCAA officials about Willie Lyles.
Per the Associated Press, Russell Shepard's suspension results from the Willie Lyles investigation, not his off-campus housing issue. #LSU
Shepard is not in trouble because of Willie Lyles. Instead, Shepard finds himself ineligible because he conferred with a teammate after they had spoken to NCAA investigators during the course of the Lyles investigation. Now, the NCAA is looking into what was said between Shepard and the teammate, and whether it compromised the investigation. It's an issue investigators take very seriously and could impact Shepard's eligibility long-term.
For more on Shepard and LSU, head over to And The Valley Shook.
Seastrunk was caught in the middle of Oregon's scandal involving use of Willie Lyles' Texas-based prep scouting service.
Seastrunk grew up in Temple, Texas, which is 35 miles away from Waco, where Baylor is located. Bears' head coach Art Briles said Lache "is back where he needs to be."
Seastrunk came to Oregon has a five-star recruit but redshirted last season. Unhappy with his role in the offense this season and amidst the allegations of the Lyles' controversy, he was granted a waiver to transfer last week.
Seastrunk will request immediate eligibility and, if granted, could be ready to play in just a few weeks, according to Dan Wetzel.
What's been rumored all morning became official as Oregon confirmed redshirt freshman running back Lache Seastrunk had been granted a release, giving him the ability to transfer. According to a report from Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel, Seastrunk will head back to Texas, transferring to Baylor to play near to his home. Additionally, Seastrunk will petition the NCAA in an effort to be ruled immediately eligible.
Seastrunk will request immediate eligibility and, if granted, could be ready to play in just a few weeks, according to Wetzel.
Lache Seatstrunk will seek transfer to Baylor, seek immediate eligibility due to health of grandmother, per a source. If granted immediate eligibility, Seastrunk could play in Baylor's season opener v TCU
Whether the release granted is anyone's guess at this point, but it wouldn't be unprecedented. In the event of a family hardship, the NCAA may waive the typical one-year transfer penalty. If the penalty is waived, Seastrunk would have four years to play four. If not, he would have three to play three.
For more on Seastrunk and the Ducks, head over to Addicted to Quack.
Seastrunk was reportedly unhappy with his role on the team during Friday's practice, prompting him to cancel a scheduled radio appearance. When the former five-star recruit did not show for Saturday's practice, rumors began to swirl that a request to transfer was in the works. (Baylor has been listed as a possible destination for the Texas native.)
Via Ken Goe of The Oregonian, the school released the following statement on Saturday:
"University of Oregon running back Lache Seastrunk has requested and has been granted his unconditional release to transfer from the school's football program," Head Coach Chip Kelly confirmed Saturday afternoon.
The Temple, Texas native and highly-decorated prep standout, redshirted as a true freshman last season and was battling for a reserve role in the first two weeks of fall camp this year.
"We wish Lache all the best in his future pursuits and will offer our complete assistance to him in his search to continue his football and educational career."
For more reaction on the Seastrunk situation, visit Addicted to Quack.
Lache Seastrunk is a major part of the Oregon Ducks' current recruiting mess, but it seems as though the running back from Texas is attempting to remove himself from the situation. The most recent reports say that Seastrunk might transfer to Baylor.
Seastrunk is filing paperwork this weekend to transfer from Oregon to the Baylor Bears, according to a tweet from Texas football reporter David Smoak. Seastrunk is a Texas native; he decided on the Ducks after standing out as one of the best running backs in the nation while playing for Texas's Temple High School.
The running back was allegedly lured to Oregon when the infamous Willie Lyles gave the recruit an ultra-rare pair of Air Jordans, one of only two pairs ever made, along with numerous other alleged benefits.
If Seastrunk heads to Baylor before the upcoming college football season, his contributions to the Ducks will be concluded with one huge mess and 35 yards on 11 carries in the team's Spring Game earlier this year. Methinks that probably wasn't worth the $25,000 the team reportedly spent for Lyles' services, if he did in fact steer players to Oregon, unless LaMichael James was the player the team really wanted.
According to a report from ESPN's "Outside the Lines," the scouting video obtained by LSU from Willie Lyles' scouting service was of poor quality and contained footage of players already playing Division I football. Lyles received $6,000 for what was ostensibly scouting information on prospective high school and junior college recruits, but may have instead been payment for steering athletes towards LSU.
The footage obtained by ESPN through a public-records request was reportedly sent to the school beginning in October 2010. On the tapes are footage of players dating back to 2007, and several clips that were already available on YouTube. Lyles reportedly ripped footage from paywall and password-protected recruiting sites such as Scout.com without permission. Also included were whole recordings of high school football games without any indication of which players were being targeted as recruits.
Lyle's relationship with LSU came under scrutiny from the NCAA after it was discovered that Oregon paid the Texas-based high school scout $25,000 for what may have been undue influence over players such as Lache Seastrunk. Lyles' turned in similarly shoddy recruiting information to Oregon, lacking any video footage and including reports on players that had already graduated high school.
NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said Friday such gag orders usually are extended to schools under investigation.
"According to NCAA rules, all parties of the investigation must maintain the confidentiality of interviews to protect the integrity of an investigation," she said. "This includes the school and enforcement staff."
LSU admitted to paying Lyles $6,000 last season, and in return received scouting information and, potentially, inappropriate access to high school recruits. A Thursday press release from the athletic department confirmed that an NCAA official had been in Baton Rouge interviewing unidentified members of the coaching staff about Lyles' connection with the program.
The Oregon Ducks begin their 2011 football season on Sept. 3 in Arlington, Tx., against the LSU Tigers, but at some point head coach Chip Kelly will need to address the Willie Lyles scandal that has become the latest in a string of bad news in college football.
Neither Kelly nor the university has remarked on the situation, and the only acknowledgement from the school has come on a bland statement released on July 1. But that may not be sufficient once Pac-12 media day comes on July 26. Certainly the media covering the Pac-12 won't be able to let Kelly wriggle out of this controversy.
Speculation over Kelly's tenure on the Ducks sideline has picked up in July, but the NCAA will need to complete its investigation before the university decides to take action, if any, for possible violations by the head coach.
be able to survive or will he be on the wrong end of a duck hunt?
I guess Les Miles has heard of Will Lyles now. Joe Schad with the scoop:
Lyles reportedly received $6,000 from LSU for his services, which came chock full with access to the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the newest Arizona Cardinal, Patrick Peterson.
Paired with the Georgia Tech penalty levied by the NCAA today, it's a banner day for college football. It's almost as if, with all the money schools make off college football and don't give to the athletes that make it great, there's some surplus of cash that teams can throw around to handlers like these. I wonder if there's a more worthy party to whom teams could bequeath those monies....
Cal football coach Jeff Tedford recently spoke to the San Jose Mercury News about the Willie Lyles scandal that has clouded the University of Oregon's football program. Tedford claims that the Golden Bears haven't done anything wrong. Lyles' scouting company billed the program $5,000 for a "2010 National Package," while charging Oregon $25,000 for a "2011 National Package," which appears to be similar.
Lyles is supposed to have helped convince top prospects LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk to come to Oregon, which could be one explanation for the discrepancy between the prices of the two packages.
The Mercury News reports that in the spring, the NCAA asked the Golden Bears for information regarding their connection to Lyles. Cal sent it, and hasn't heard anything more about it. Cal has received no indication from the NCAA that its program is being investigated. Lyles visited Cal along with Seastrunk, but Tedford says that's the only time he's ever met Lyles, and that he "wouldn't know him if he walked through that door."
Willie Lyles just can't seem to get out of the news regarding his connection with the Oregon football program. The Oregonian has the latest on the sordid situation, but probably not the last, regarding the scouting packages Lyles sold to NCAA schools.
Lyles, a high school football scout based in Texas, billed the University of Oregon $25,000 for the "2011 National Package" from Lyles' Complete Scouting Services company while invoicing California just $5,000 for the same package according to the Oregonian via a public records request.
The newspaper reports that both schools received identical services according to the invoice, likely making the difference the under-the-table services that Lyles provided the Ducks. Lyles' name is becoming household, at least in NCAA football circles, after being alleged to have steered top prospects LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk to Oregon in exchange for extra benefits from the school.
If this isn't related to the extra recruiting efforts, Oregon is probably not going to be happy in the extra $20,000 they were charged when Cal only had to pay $5,000 for the same services.
The Oregon football squad is likely in hot water with the NCAA following what's been a rather tumultuous offseason already. The local media expects things could get worse, however, even questioning if head coach Chip Kelly will be on the sidelines next season as more information leaks out regarding recruiter Willie Lyles.
The Oregonian's John Canzano wrote in his Saturday newspaper column that "it feels as though we've arrived at the beginning of the end of Kelly as the Ducks coach."
With all of the scrutiny revolving around the program as of late, stemming mostly from a Yahoo! Sports report, Canzano probably isn't far off base with his assessment of the Ducks football program. The NCAA infractions committee almost certainly won't take it easy relating to the alleged massive recruiting violations Kelly's squad has committed.
Canzano reports that when he asked Kelly in March about Willie Lyles, Kelly told him that he didn't who he was -- and Canzano believed him. After the Yahoo! report leaked, however, Kelly conveniently talked Canzano around the issue.
"Around here, we call him 'Will,'" Kelly told Canzano according to the column. "We've already distanced ourselves from him, trust me."
That isn't the only reason to question Kelly's credibility, however, according to the reporter.
Lyles was supposedly running a scouting service that Oregon had subscribed to, but the Yahoo! report has implicated the Texas man as a key figure in the recruitment of both LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk -- and those are just the two high-profile names that have are public knowledge. He may not be fired by Oregon.
Canzano does question Kelly's job stability, but he realizes that the NCAA will have to go through the full process of deciding if Oregon's biggest infraction was committing the alleged recruiting violations, the seeming cover-up or if there were any provable violations at all.
Still, with all of the issues surrounding the program, it wouldn't be surprising to see Kelly on his way out sooner rather than later if the Oregon athletic department believes it could keep them from stricter sanctions on the school.
The details surrounding Oregon football’s relationship with the scout Willie Lyles and his fledgling recruiting service were already looking bad. Lyles had exchanged emails with the Oregon staff; he had helped players maintain their eligibility at the high school level. He had provided the Oregon staff with reams of recruiting materials that, upon closer inspection, were full of old, useless information.
It gets much, much worse than that with the release of Yahoo’s investigation into Lyles’ services and his relationship with Oregon. The report goes into great detail about exactly what Lyles did for Oregon, right down to including pictures of handwritten thank you notes from Kelly to Lyles. The most crucial bit regarding the future of Chip Kelly at the University of Oregon, though, is this:
The picture he painted to Yahoo! Sports was one of a man serving dual roles as adviser and fixer in the complicated recruiting and eligibility process for local players, while also engaging in a nuanced professional relationship with the college coaches pursuing those same recruits.
That combined with Oregon’s documented last-minute scramble to provide something, anything resembling a scouting report generated by Lyles, will be what the NCAA weighs in evaluating the Ducks’ case.
As for Kelly, his future has to be considered very much in doubt now. If Oregon defends him, they may be punished more harshly by the NCAA; if they jettison him as Ohio State did with Jim Tressel, well…all of us would be lying if we said we knew what the NCAA was going to do at any given moment in any instance, especially in a gray area like the use of recruiting services.
More documents related to Will Lyles "2011 National Package" purchased by the Oregon Ducks are slowly trickling out. The initial wave of documents, which Oregon paid $25,000 for, was met with disbelief and mocking tones -- the recruits named were almost all part of the class of 2009 and the information was severely dated. On Tuesday, another set of spreadsheets and profiles were released to media after a request for clarification from the media.
Lyles was not, apparently, providing the Ducks with information about the class of 2011. We know he gave Oregon outdated profiles for players in the class of 2009 and 2010, but the information released Tuesday was more current, and covered sophomores and juniors in the 2011 school year.
The newest information came in the form of spread sheets that listed high school sophomores in North and South Carolina, juniors in Louisiana and "east Texas" and sophomores in the east Texas area. Thus, none of the latest players listed could be considered as potential members of the 2011 recruiting class, the purported basis of a "2011 National Package" of recruits that Oregon paid $25,000 to Willie Lyles on March 30, 2010, and the list of underclassmen was delivered to the UO almost a year after the payment to Lyles.
Oregon added that the information released on Tuesday was withheld initially because of a mistake when responding to a public records request. Only after a request for clarification were more documents released.
While the information is valid and appears to be useful, one has to wonder why Lyles delivered it to Oregon a year after he was paid. Either coincidentally or not, the spreadsheets were delivered just before news of the Ducks' payments to Lyles and Baron Flenory broke. But, again, there was no rule preventing Oregon from paying for a recruiting service and the Ducks may have had Lyles on some kind of retainer.
The Oregon Ducks have shared two more pieces of information that they received from Willie Lyles as part of that famed 2011 National Recruiting Package for which they paid $25,000. As George Schroeder shares, the two emails from Lyles are dated Feb. 17 and March 3 -- say, did anything else happen regarding Oregon football and Willie Lyles on March 3?
The emails included spreadsheets on 2011 high school sophomore football players from four states. Schroeder describes them as being of higher quality than the laughable collection unveiled June 20, which included multiple players long already committed to other schools.
Hard not to look at the dates of those emails and think of this as anything but a rush attempt to come up with something of substance to show the NCAA. The college football offseason is the best of all offseasons.
When the Oregon Ducks paid Will Lyles $25,000 for scouting services, it looked bad on the surface. Shortly thereafter, though, Oregon seemed to appease the curious masses, saying the money paid was for Lyles' national scouting evaluation, which would fall within the NCAA guidelines at the time. But the story took an odd turn as Lyles' player profiles were released to the media on Monday, leaving many to wonder why the Ducks paid $25,000 for the information, or lack thereof, he gave.
Lyles' class of 2011 player evaluation booklet contained a few items of note. By a few, I mean everything in it and by of note I mean none of the players in the booklet were from 2011. In fact, nearly all of the players listed were from the class of 2009, and using the term nationwide to describe the breadth of the evaluations would be a stretch at best.
Further, although the service was billed as a "national package," the vast majority of the players are from Texas. Forty of those profiled are from Houston. Of the five from outside Texas, two were from South Carolina, and one each from California, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
Lyles is based in Texas and it's the area he knows best. But it gets even more weird. One of the players Lyles evaluated, Nosa Eguae, signed with Auburn in early 2010 and played against the Ducks in the BCS Championship Game. Another, Josh Rake, passed away in Sept. of 2010.
If this is the report he provided the Ducks, one has to wonder if it was worth the $25,000 Oregon paid. While there could be a few reasonable explanations -- Lyles conned Oregon or the evaluations released to the media were a sample -- it looks bad from a public relations standpoint.
For more on the Ducks, head over to SB Nation's Addicted to Quack.
Oregon Football has had dealings with a street agent, which is generally regarded as a bad thing. However, the Oregon Ducks claim that, to their knowledge, Will Lyles ran a legitimate business and they paid him for legitimate business services. In an attempt to comply with NCAA rules and clear themselves on charges of any wrongdoing, UO is in the process of releasing documents related to the NCAA inquiry.
The most significant of these payments is probably a $25,000 payment to Complete Scouting Services, Lyles' company, for a national recruiting package. The reason this is important is because the payment for services was made shortly after Oregon signed two recruits that Lyles advised.
At present, it's impossible to say that Oregon did or did not do anything wrong, but the newly released documents are at the very least, interesting. The NCAA's investigation is ongoing, and the university will probably release some more documents in the coming weeks in an attempt to prove they did nothing wrong.
Spring football is sprung, and the 2010 national title-contending Oregon Ducks are back at it on the football field, which can mean only one thing: It's prime time for reporters to finally question players directly about their relationships with street agents! Huzzah! Reporters caught up with running backs LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk at Saturday's open practice, and The Oregonian details the hotshot duo's responses to the media chatter currently surrounding Willie Lyles, currently under scrutiny for his various degrees of relationships with Oregon, LSU, and Texas A&M.
Here's James on Lyles:
"I talk to him all the time. He has never steered me wrong or given me bad advice. I can really pick people out who are negative for me. I don't think he is a negative person at all. I think he is a good person."
"It's nothing dealing with me," he said. "I'm not worried about it. I know God is going to block it all from me and keep me focused on what I need to be focused on, which is school and football."
The kids would rather focus on football, and frankly, so would we. Again, let's recall that while this story is buoying many a bored college football writer through the doldrums of the offseason, and while pay-for-play schemes of the sort being bandied about in the story that ties Lyles to LSU phenom Patrick Peterson and Texas A&M is obviously illegal, the sorts of scouting services Lyles provides on the up-and-up do not technically run afoul of NCAA regulations, at least not right now.
More quotes from the two runnin' Ducks are available for your intense parsing at the above link. For more on James, Seastrunk, and the spring football preparations of the Oregon Ducks, visit SB Nation's Addicted To Quack.
Patrick Peterson has denied having any relationship whatsoever with so-called street agent Will Lyles, saying, “I have never had any type of relationship with Willie Lyles and he had no influence on my decision to attend LSU, or any other school for that matter.”
He’s also claimed he never even visited Texas A&M and that Van Malone “had no involvement” in his recruitment.
But here’s a report from 2007 on AggieYell.com by Brian Perroni on a Texas A&M visit by Peterson. The eventual LSU Tigers cornerback says he visited “the other day,” talking up the school’s academics and facilities before saying he wants to take another visit to the school. And Perroni today tweeted that the “friend” mentioned in the story was Lyles.
And there’s more! Peterson is quoted as saying, “At A&M I really like the coach recruiting me, coach [Van] Malone. He is also my position coach and he is really down to earth and he seems to care about the players more than just in football.”
Patrick Peterson denied a claim made to ESPN by former Texas A&M cornerbacks coach Van Malone that Willie Lyles asked for more than $80,000 to send Peterson to the Aggies. Lyles, you’ll recall, has a reputation as a street agent and played a role in the recent Oregon Ducks’ NCAA investigation.
Malone, who’s now a Tulsa coach, to ESPN:
A few days after the kid’s visit, Will calls and says, ‘If you want this kid, there are other schools that want this kid as well. They’re willing to pay a certain amount of money, around the $80,000 mark. He said that was something we were going to have to beat as a university to be able to obtain the services of this kid.
LSU Tigers star Peterson responded on ESPN radio, calling the claim “all baloney” and adding: “Why would I jeopardize my future over going to Texas A&M and $80,000 when I knew that my future was playing football?”
LSU is being investigated for ties to Will Lyles, the so-called "street agent" who also has financial ties to the Oregon Ducks, themselves under investigation. How does this affect you, bored college football fan?
What's all this, then?
Will Lyles, the SUPER-SHADOWY STREET AGENT who was paid a cool $25,000 by Oregon for "scouting services," was apparently also under contract to LSU. As a result, the university is now wriggling under the NCAA microscope themselves. Neato!
How much did LSU pay Lyles?
That's a lot less than Oregon.
The Tigers apparently only wanted JUCO player information, and LSU also used several other scouting services to round out their coverage.
Is this what that fellow with the unfortunate hair was yelling about all day yesterday?
Is Thayer Evans this sensationalist and shouty about everything?
Pretty much, which is why he's perfect for this kind of story. BREAKING: LEGAL-BUT-SKETCHY PRACTICE IS BOTH LEGAL AND SKETCHY. It's a living.
Wait, if the practice of using scouting services is legal, why might the Bayou Bengals be in trouble?
Well, it appears that an LSU assistant coach visited a high school in the company of Lyles to see future Tigers signee Trevon Randle, which could lead to Lyles being classified as a booster, and boosters are prohibited from influencing recruits.
What are the future implications of an investigation like this?
Bet on the NCAA illegalizing scouting services at some point, in the name of college football not attaining the reputation of college basketball when it comes to recruiting (although that's a blurry line as it is). And expect to hear more schools pulled into this. If two schools were involved here, more were.
Wait, where have I heard Thayer Evans' name before?
You're thinking of the "girls were also romancing each other" incident.
How is girls romancing each other a bad thing, again?
It is perhaps best not to question the mind of a young man who favors coeds of Oklahoma over those of Texas.
The Oregon Ducks are going public with their financial records in the wake of Yahoo! and ESPN investigations that revealed the school paid recruiting coordinators upwards of $25,000 total in the past year. The money, paid for information on potential recruits, has come under scrutiny after the investigations revealed ties to some of the Ducks' top recruits. While paying for the information is not illegal, if either Will Lyles or Baron Flenory -- the men paid for scouting services -- funneled players to Oregon, it would constitute an NCAA violation.
While this story has blown up very quickly, it seems like the U of O compliance department is on top of things. These new details, along with recent comments by former Oregon recruiting coordinator Deryk Gilmore, should ease any worries that Ducks fans have.
While the NCAA will no doubt continue to look into these issues, the proactive nature of the Oregon athletic department is very encouraging. They obviously are not trying to hide anything that has happened in these transactions, and are going out of their way to provide information to the public, something we haven't seen happen often in recent years.
Taking an up-front and honest approach is a good start by Oregon. The NCAA values honesty, and have shown a tendency to come down on schools, and athletes, that lie in recent history. If nothing else, it's good from a public relations standpoint.
Prepare for an offseason weekend full of "The Ducks' goose is cooked HURR HURR" headlines, as the NCAA makes fast tracks for Eugene to examine Oregon's recruiting practices, in the wake of Thursday's reports of high-figure third-party payments by the school. Via Sports by Brooks, what Yahoo! and ESPN hath wrought:
NCAA investigators will be in Eugene on Friday to initiate a more direct inspection of the recruiting tactics of school’s football program. I’m told the NCAA’s imminent presence in Eugene was in response to revelations in the Yahoo and ESPN reports published Thursday.
Over at our Oregon blog, Addicted To Quack, level heads are prevailing:
Unfortunately, this is not a clear area of NCAA law. Payments cannot be paid to anyone that recruits for Oregon, and many will automatically assume that Myles and Flenory steered players toward Oregon. I don't see much evidence that this is the case, but this is an issue that many feel uneasy about, and it will be tough to establish either guilt or innocence in an issue such as this.
Is the NCAA putting on a show so they can close a pesky loophole and deny schools involvement with shady-but-legal recruiting services? Probably. (Do they read SB Nation for ideas? Maybe!) Stay tuned to Addicted To Quack and this StoryStream for more news on the situation as it develops.
The Oregon Ducks are not being investigated by the NCAA for a payment made to Will Lyles and a reported payment to Baron Flenory. The two recipients, however, are, according to CBS Sports’ Bryan Fischer. The NCAA is reportedly taking a look at recruiting services across the college football map, not just Lyles and Flenory.
The school continues to assert its innocence of any violation, releasing a statement late Thursday:
The athletics department paid for services rendered by a pair of scouting services that were processed through the athletics department business office to Complete Scouting Services and New Level Athletics. This is no different than services purchased by a number of colleges and universities throughout the country.
This is something we remain confident that is within the acceptable guidelines allowed by the NCAA and occurred with the knowledge of the department’s compliance office.
We have previously stated that we have not been in contact with anyone from the NCAA or Pacific-10
Conference in regards to these practices and that situation remains unchanged.
For what it’s worth, Addicted To Quack realizes the gravity of the allegations but isn’t worried.
Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly has commented on reports that the program paid Baron Flenory and Will Lyles for prohibited recruiting assistance. In a report by ESPN’s Joe Schad and Mark Schlabach, Kelly acknowledges paying Lyles, though he denies any wrongdoing:
Most programs purchase recruiting services. Our compliance office is aware of it. Will has a recruiting service that met NCAA rules and we used him in 2010.
Oregon athletics department spokesman Dave Williford confirmed to ESPN that Oregon did pay Lyles, as it had done in the past. However, this year the payment reportedly increased despite Lyles no longer being associated with Scout.com.
The $25,000 amount Oregon paid Lyles is higher than the going rate for recruiting services acceptable by the NCAA, though paying a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean rules were broken. The issue is whether Lyles steered players towards Oregon rather than serving as a talent evaluator.
Read the ESPN report for many more details on Lyles and the complicated world of recruiting services.
Baron Flenory has been accused of shady dealings with Oregon Ducks football, allegedly accepting money for turning players towards the school. He works for an outfit called New Level Athletics, with his profile page listing him a former Scout.com talent evaluator. He now runs 7-on-7 football camps.
None of this is news to hardcore college football blog readers and message boarders, who’ve likely seen Flenory’s name at more than one site over the last few months. UW Dawg Pound, our Washington Huskies community, called out Flenory in 2010 for his tight association with Oregon coach Chip Kelly and USC coach Pete Carroll. Recruitocosm also called him a street agent in 2010, a quintessential one in fact. That’s hardly the extent of his reputation.
Again, being called a street agent by college football fans does not mean any violations have occurred. If getting a bunch of message board posters stirred up is all it takes to be guilty of something, we’re all headed for probation.
Will Lyles, one of the two men reported to have received money from the Oregon Ducks football program for what may have been recruiting access, has a reputation around college football’s corner of the internet. While message board posts aren’t any sort of proof of wrongdoing, it’s worthwhile to understand what we’re working with here.
Members of Orange Power, an Oklahoma St. Cowboys board, described Lyles as a “street agent” and voiced discomfort with landing one of his associates as a signee. That was in 2009. Also in 2009, Barking Carnival described Lyles as a street agent similar to Bryce Brown’s handler. There are many more, but you get the point.
The emergence of street agents in college football is a complicated issue. It’s a pejorative term, though there’s nothing specifically against NCAA rules about urging a player to attend a certain school. Certainly there are plenty of players out there who don’t have to worry about their non-family mentors taking money.
Of course, it doesn’t always end there, as money is often involved. Barking Carnival has written extensively about street agents, and not just on Lyles himself.
The Oregon Ducks football program paid more than $28,000 to Will Lyles and Baron Flenory, men who've had personal associations with recent Ducks signees, according to Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson. Among the players listed by Robinson as possibly involved are star Cliff Harris, five-star 2011 signee DeAnthony Thomas, Dior Mathis, Tacoi Sumler, and Anthony Wallace.
According to the report, Lyles received $25,000 from Oregon, while Flenory was given $3,745. Both run athletics institutions that involve coming into contact with young football players. Flenory's profile page at the New Level Athletics website lists his extensive background, The NCAA is not investigating Oregon at this point.
Rumors had been building for the past week or so of trouble drawing near for Oregon, with the NCAA speaking with Thomas, according to what appeared to be Thomas' Twitter account -- though Thomas first asserting investigators wanted to know about the USC Trojans, not Oregon, then pulling a Will Hill and claiming that's not his Twitter handle.
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