Oregon addresses football recruiting process

Oregon addresses football recruiting process
Chip Kelly (Associated Press photo)

EUGENE, Ore. -- The University of Oregon football program is making national headlines for the wrong reasons, and an investigation by the NCAA into recruiting practices could be on the horizon.

The University of Oregon has been up-front about the so-called scouting services, but one problem is the amount of money paid to scouts, like the $25,000 the UO paid to Willie Lyles, owner of Complete Scouting Services. Typically, these services cost less than $5,000.

Lyles, who has been connected to Texas recruits LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk, was paid more than $16,000 for the two previous years combined.

Published reports call Lyles a "mentor" to Seastrunk. Seastrunk redshirted last season after Oregon recruited him from Temple, TX. Lyles is from Houston.

It's against NCAA policy for Lyles to help direct any player to the Ducks in exchange for payment. Oregon head coach Chip Kelly told ESPN.com the Oregon Compliance Office is aware of the payments for the scouting services, and that they were within NCAA rules.

"Those are in place to protect the student athletes' well-being, to ensure that the focus is on their education and academics, and not on the influence of third parties, who, in a lot of times, don't have the interests of the student athletes at heart," said Stacey Osburn, a spokesperson for the NCAA.

"Their interests -- for the third parties -- are a lot of times very selfish. The student athletes may not realize that in their discussions with those third parties," said Osburn.

Statement from the University of Oregon Friday afternoon.

The University of Oregon contacted the Pacific-10 Conference Friday morning regarding scouting services that specialize in the identification of potential student-athletes, according to the Ducks’ Director of Athletics Rob Mullens Friday.

As a result, the athletics department has been asked by the NCAA to provide documents related to the purchase of services provided by scouting agencies contracted by the school’s football program.
Mullens said the athletics department first called the Pac-10 office Friday morning and the NCAA contacted the University’s compliance office to request the documents later that same day.
“We have been asked to provide a series of documents by the NCAA and intend to fully cooperate,” Mullens said. “I reiterate that it is our belief that the purchase of such services is within the allowable NCAA guidelines.”
NCAA Bylaw 13.14.3 states that an “institution may subscribe to a recruiting or scouting service involving prospective student-athletes, provided the institution does not purchase more than one annual subscription to a particular service and the service:  (Adopted:  1/1/02, Revised:  1/16/10)
(a) Is made available to all institutions desiring to subscribe and at the same fee rate for all subscribers;
(b) Publicly identifies all applicable rates;
(c) Disseminates information (e.g., reports, profiles) about prospective student-athletes at least four times per calendar year;
(d) Publicly identifies the geographical scope of the service (e.g., local, regional, national) and reflects broad-based coverage of the geographical area in the information it disseminates;
(e) Provides individual analysis beyond demographic information or rankings for each prospective student-athlete in the information it disseminates; (Revised:  4/13/10)
(f)   Provides access to samples or previews of the information it disseminates before purchase of a subscription; and
(g) Provides video that is restricted to regularly scheduled (regular-season) high school, preparatory school or two-year college contests and for which the institution made no prior arrangements for recording.  (Note:  This provision is applicable only if the subscription includes video services.)

Statement from the University of Oregon athletic department on Thursday night.

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.
Read the 2010-11 NCAA Division I Manual here.