EUGENE, Ore. – The University of Oregon proposed a self-imposed two-year probation and the loss of a scholarship for three years because of possible recruiting violations involving the Ducks' football program.
The NCAA began looking into possible violations following an anonymous tip about payments Oregon made to recruiting services, including a $25,000 payment to Willie Lyles and Houston-based Complete Scouting Services in 2010. Lyles had a connection with an Oregon recruit.
The university released documents on Monday that give the best view to date of the recruiting violations the football program faces.
The documents, which were provided on Monday to KATU after we filed a records request in September, are a draft of the “summary disposition” report. In the documents, the school and NCAA enforcement staff agree that the UO committed several "major" violations.
The summary disposition process was essentially the plea bargain process the school was going through with the NCAA after being accused of recruiting violations.
We received five drafts of the report and the reporting below is based on the most recent draft provided to us.
“There were underlying major violations coupled with failure to monitor violations involving the head coach (2009 through 2011) and the athletics department (2008-2011),” NCAA enforcement staff wrote in the report. “While the violations were not intentional in nature, coaches and administrators of a sports program at an NCAA member institution have an obligation to ensure that the activities being engaged in comply with NCAA legislation.”
The report also outlines two crucial points for the Ducks. First, NCAA enforcement staff said they had “no finding of lack of institutional control and no finding of unethical conduct.” That could prove critical when it comes time to dish out punishment.
Second, the report says the school could face penalties under the “repeat violator” clause of the NCAA rules. The UO last had a major infraction in 2004; since some of the alleged violations happened within five years of that date, the NCAA could impose stiffer penalties.
The report also focuses heavily on Will Lyles. Lyles ran a recruiting service and has widely been reported to be at the center of the football scandal.
“At the center of many of the violations is Will Lyles, a recruiting/scouting service provider who became a representative of the institution’s athletic interests in May 2008,” the summary disposition draft says. Lyles has been widely reported to be involved with the violations, but this report goes into detail about his involvement.
The report also shows the NCAA and Oregon agree this is a “major infractions case.”
“Due to the nature, scope and duration of the time over which the violations occurred, the violations were not isolated in nature,” the report says. “Further, while the violations were not intentional in nature, many are significant and should not be considered inadvertent.”
The NCAA will not comment on the ongoing investigations. Oregon's athletic department issued a statement.
"The review is ongoing until the NCAA Committee on Infractions issues its final report. The integrity of the process and our continued full cooperation with the NCAA prohibits us from publicly discussing the specifics of this matter," the statement said.
The report details seven key findings:
Finding 1 – Will Lyles had impermissible contact with prospective student athletes
The university and the NCAA agree that Lyles was working as an agent of the school in 2008-2010 when he had a series of “impermissible telephone and off-campus contacts” with prospective student athletes. The report lists contact with several students who ultimately did not play for the Ducks, but also has several redacted names, which are likely people who went on to become UO students.
“From the spring of 2008 onward, Lyles quickly evolved into an important part of the football program’s recruiting efforts in the state of Texas,” the report says. It says if a coach was recruiting in the Houston-area, it was common for them to reach out to Lyles.
It also details how Lyles established close ties to many Texas recruits.
“Through the relationships he cultivated, Lyles provided the football staff with valuable information that would not typically be included in the recruiting/scouting service’s written reports,” the report says.
The report says Lyles did not coerce any player to choose Oregon, although he did “provide a meaningful recruiting advantage” by providing background info on players and helping coordinate talks with players.
The school and NCAA said they agreed the phone calls were a “major violation” of NCAA rules, according to the report.
Finding 2 – The school paid for recruiting services that violated NCAA rules
The NCAA and school agree that from 2008-2011 the Ducks paid at least around $35,000 for three improper recruiting services, including $25,000 to Lyles’s company Complete Scouting Services.
“CSS (Lyles’s company) did not disseminate to the football program recruiting or scouting information at least four times per calendar year, as required by NCAA legislation,” the report says.
While they agree the violations happened, the school and the NCAA disagree about the severity of the charges, according to the report. The school argues the rules violated were obscure and that the violation should be considered “secondary.”
The NCAA argues that taken collectively all three instances show a pattern and should be considered “major violations.”
Finding 3 – Heavily redacted
This section of the report is heavily redacted, likely because it names players and coaches who were at one point part of the football program.
In one of the only non-redacted parts of this section, the UO and NCAA agree a violation happened and that it is a “major violation.”
Finding 4 – The school made 730 impermissible phone calls
The NCAA and UO agreed in the report that somebody made 730 impermissible phone calls between 2007 and early 2011. The names of whoever made those calls are blacked out in the version of the report we received.
“While the number of calls and the time period over which they occurred is significant, it should be noted that there was no direct intent to gain a recruiting advantage,” the report says.
Rather, the report says most of the 730 calls were “administrative” and did not directly involved recruiting.
“Nonetheless, the calls provided an indirect recruiting advantage in the form of freeing up the valuable resource of time for the coaching staff to focus its time and substantive recruiting endeavors,” the report says.
The calls were made to prospective players, their coaches or their high school coaches.
Finding 5 – Too many coaches were involved in recruiting
The school and NCAA agree that between 2009 and 2011 the Ducks had one too many coaches working on recruiting activities, according to the report.
The name of the extra coach has been redacted.
Finding 6 – Did the school promote an atmosphere of compliance?
This section is difficult to decipher because of redactions, but centers on an NCAA bylaw that says the head coach much promote an “atmosphere of compliance.”
In the report, the school and NCAA agree a violation happened, although the NCAA cautions that the report does not include a finding that [redacted] failed “to promote an atmosphere of compliance.” It does not state if that person is Chip Kelly.
Kelly was head coach of the Ducks for the past three seasons. He left Oregon in January to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I am aware of the recent reports and of the ongoing investigation being conducted by the NCAA and the University of Oregon. While at Oregon, I know we were fully cooperative with all aspects of the investigation and I will continue to contribute in any way that I can. But until the NCAA rules on the matter, I will have no further comment," Kelly said Tuesday in a statement released by the Eagles.
Finding 7 – The school failed to properly monitor recruiting practices
According to the report, the university and NCAA both agreed that the UO failed to properly monitor the use of recruiting and scouting services, giving out school apparel and telephone calls between high school athletes and coaches.
The NCAA report outlines how UO staff would put information gathered from the scouting service into a database. They would then discard the original.
“It was simply to make the wealth of information received by the football offices more user-friendly,” the report says. “However, because there are specific NCAA bylaws relevant to information received from a recruiting/scouting service, there needed to be a mechanism for tracking the information received from these sources.”
The school and NCAA tried to work out a plea deal with the summary disposition process, but it apparently fell through, according to a report from Yahoo Sports in December.
That means the findings discussed in this draft document will not necessarily be binding.
Instead, the school will argue its case to the NCAA Committee on Infractions. That hearing is expected to take place this spring.
KATU executive producer Kelly Hatmaker, KATU reporter Hillary Lake and AP writer Anne N. Peterson contributed to this report