Posted on: July 26, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 2:34 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
LOS ANGELES -- Chip Kelly knew it was coming. The Oregon head coach had not spoken with the media extensively about the NCAA investigation into Will Lyles and his recruiting service but carefully avoided answering anything related to the matter despite being peppered with questions about it at Pac-12 Media Days.
"Obviously, I know the one question everybody is waiting to have answered is," Kelly said. "We sent out a release earlier concerning on -- we have great respect for the NCAA in terms of their review and examination of our use of recruiting services and we've cooperated fully with them and will continue to cooperate with them.
"As head coach of this program and of this football program, we're held accountable for everything we do. So we look forward to, when we can, I'd love to talk about it. There are a lot of answers I'd love to make sure we can get out there."
Though several recruits have said they are taking a wait-and-see approach with Oregon and the NCAA, Kelly eased Ducks fans' fears about the program's recruiting sliding.
"I haven't had to address it with the recruits right now," he said. "We're coming off back-to-back Pac-10 championships as we move into a brand-new league with a brand-new television contract, it's a bright future for us. We had a berth in the Rose Bowl, we had a berth in the National Championship Game. And I understand from the kids we've talked to, our recruit something going very, very well."
Kelly added that he has not made significant changes to how he recruits or how his staff goes about evaluating players. In regards to Lyles in particular, who Kelly has had frequent contact with in the past, the quick talker was not concerned with the outside perception of Oregon or other schools doing business with him.
"I can't speak to what any other school has done with him," Kelly said. "I know he deals with 80-some odd schools and what other services he's been involved with. But I know how we dealt with them. But again, I've got to defer to. -- I'd love to talk about it. And when we have a chance after the report comes out, I'll be able to clear up any questions that anybody has about the whole situation."
Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: July 26, 2011 2:31 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
LOS ANGELES -- Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens has released a statement regarding the expanding NCAA investigation into the program ahead of head coach Chip Kelly's remarks at Pac-12 Media Day:
“The University of Oregon football program, from Coach Chip Kelly through the entire organization, has tremendous respect for the NCAA’s important role in monitoring collegiate athletics and, to this end, continues to fully cooperate with the NCAA’s ongoing review.”
“The University of Oregon is committed to holding itself and the individuals associated with the University accountable to the highest standards.”
“As part of the University’s commitment to accountability, we want to reiterate that the institution takes this matter very seriously and remains dedicated to an open and transparent approach with the NCAA.
The university has retained outside counsel for this matter, Bond Schoeneck & King, a prominent and well-respected law firm with a practice group focused on NCAA compliance matters. The firm has been charged with making an independent assessment of the football program's use of outside recruiting services. In addition, they have been asked to provide the University with recommendations for areas of improvement within the football program and athletics department in order to meet best practices. We look forward to making the recommendations public at the conclusions of the process. The University, our Head Coach and the entire Athletic Department are fully committed to ensuring our program is following best practice.
As party of the University's commitment to accountability, we want to reiterate that the institution takes this matter very seriously and remains dedicated to an open and transparent approach with the NCAA.”
Posted on: July 23, 2011 1:15 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2011 3:12 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
While Oregon hasn't made many public comments on the NCAA investigation into the school and its relationship with scout Will Lyles, athletic director Rob Mullen did send an email to a number of trustees, the alumni association board of directors and boosters this week. In the email, which The Register-Guard got its hands on, Mullen describes what the school is doing to cooperate with the investigation.
In the email Mullens wrote:
“The University of Oregon football program, from Coach Chip Kelly through the entire organization, has tremendous respect for the NCAA’s important role in monitoring collegiate athletics and, to this end, continues to fully cooperate with the NCAA’s ongoing review.”Mullen also explained the school's decision to seek outside counsel from the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck and King, a firm that specializes in NCAA compliance issues -- a firm that could end up costing the school around $150,000.
“The firm has been charged with making an independent assessment of the football program’s use of outside recruiting services. In addition, they have been asked to provide the University with recommendations for areas of improvement within the football program and athletics department in order to meet best practices.Mullen sent the email out in part because Pac-12 media days will be taking place next week, and coach Chip Kelly is scheduled to face the media on Tuesday. While we don't know if Kelly is going to discuss the matter, you can bet your life savings that he's going to be asked about the situation frequently. Mullen also warned in the email that the recipients "are likely to see another round of media reports on the NCAA matter."
It's hard to predict what, if anything, will come of this investigation at Oregon. Many were predicting that Ohio State would be sanctioned back to the Stone Age thanks to the investigation taking place in Columbus, Ohio. But after Friday's announcement that the school wouldn't be hit with a "failure to monitor" charge, it looks as if Ohio State will escape the NCAA investigation relatively unscathed.
It's an outcome Oregon is no doubt hoping for itself.
Posted on: July 18, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: July 18, 2011 12:39 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Posted on: July 12, 2011 3:46 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 5:09 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
All-American cornerback and punt returner Cliff Harris may still be suspended from the Oregon Ducks, but he's a few steps closer to rejoining the team later this season. As the Register-Guard reports, Harris has joined his teammates for voluntary summer workouts:
Of course, as these are simply voluntary workouts, Harris has still not been reinstated to the program by head coach Chip Kelly, and he will not play in the season opener against LSU. Further, his eligiibility is still in some sort of limbo as the NCAA continues to investigate the arrangement that got Harris in the rental car in which he was speeding last month. If the NCAA doesn't look kindly on Mindy Schmidling, a payroll assistant in Oregon's athletic department, renting a car for Harris to use, then Harris might have to sit for much longer than Kelly would like.
That second article lists over $6,000 of legal fines accrued by Harris, mainly from traffic tickets. Earlier reports had the total around $8,500, so there's obviously some confusion somewhere, but still: it's a big, big number. There's also a minor in possession of alcohol charge and a whatever fees a collection agency tacked onto some unpaid tickets, but by and large this is all stuff that Harris has accomplished in a car. There aren't any DUIs, but there's just about everything else: driving without a valid license (or a suspended license), driving without insurance, failure to stop at a stop sign, and a boatload of speeding charges.
One would hope the light finally turned on in Harris' head after his 118 mph citation, but until he puts together a few problem-free years, all the evidence suggests his habits are getting worse, not better. That's -- for lack of a better term -- an extremely dangerous road to go down, so for Harris' sake let's hope he starts getting his act together behind the wheel, and soon.
Posted on: July 8, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 12:53 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
So, hey, remember when Oregon All-American cornerback and punt returner Cliff Harris took a fellow UO employee's rental car for a 118-mile-per-hour joyride? On a suspended license? Earning himself more than $1,600 in fines?
That princely sum would be far more than most college students would be capable of paying, but fortunately for Harris, he's got a very generous mother -- one who has reportedly written a check for the entirety of Harris' fines stemming from the incident.
By paying the ticket, Harris has effectively pled guilty to the charges related to his arrest.
But that little escapade still represents barely more than a sixth of Harris' former total debt in traffic citations and other fines. According to a June 15 report from Eugene station KEZI, until his mother's payment Harris had racked up some 11 unpaid tickets between the courts in Eugene and his hometown of Fresno (Calif.). The grand total owed? $8,527.50.
Harris has these outstanding fines in Oregon Municipal Court, all of which he was found guilty by default for failing to appear in court. Another court official said the fine amounts below would actually be higher now with interest added, after being sent to Professional Credit Service for collections:Thanks to the serious nature of Harris' recent speeding arrest -- doing 118 in a 65-mph zone is no joke, as that hefty fine attests -- he had already been suspended for the Ducks' season opener against LSU, and possibly longer.
But with that most recent incident only the latest in a string of run-ins with the traffic courts and considering that Chip Kelly will be doing everything he can to rehab his image in the wake of the Will Lyles allegations, we're now betting on "possibly longer."
Given the long series of off-field incidents Kelly has already had to deal with over the past 16 months, this latest black eye may not give him much choice.
Posted on: July 6, 2011 12:44 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 12:45 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Earlier today, a story in the Oregonian by columnist John Canzano about Will Lyles raised plenty of eyebrows in Eugene and elsewhere -- mainly for this statement by Lyles about the recruitment of five-star running back prospect (and eventual Oregon signee) Lache Seastrunk:
Basically, a quick reading of that statement would probably lead one to believe that according to Lyles, Oregon provided Seastrunk with a rare pair of Air Jordans, which would be a major recruiting violation and likely enough to get Chip Kelly fired at once. Moreover, it would represent an escalation of Lyles' intimations about the Oregon program; when he talked to Yahoo!, he never once said anything about Oregon or anybody else directly providing impermissible benefits to any players, much less Seastrunk.
And yet still, there are Lyles' own words, seemingly damning Oregon's program. The only way out for Oregon is through a narrow interpretation of "had a pair of Jordans for him," mainly that Oregon had procured the shoes for Seastrunk's visit, but only for display and not as a gift or anything -- sort of the way a museum might say it "has a new exhibit wing for patrons," which nobody would assume to mean that the exhibits are free for the taking. Still, again, that's a pretty narrow reading of the term, and it would almost have to take a clarification from Lyles himself along those lines to make this a non-story.
Well, as luck would have it, Lyles did provide exactly that clarification on Twitter this evening -- and a picture to back it up. "The shoes were on display and I never said they were given to Lache," said Lyles in a tweet, and the photographic evidence, via Lyles' own Twitpic account, is above at right.
So that's that, and frankly, this explanation makes way more sense than the alternative. If there are only two pairs of a certain style of Jordan ever made, they're practically treasures (especially to Nike, Oregon, and to a lesser-but-still-substantial extent Seastrunk), which means the odds that they'd be used as a highly illegal bargaining chip in the recruitment of a player would seem practically zero. Moreover, according to Lyles, Oregon was paying him that $25,000 precisely so they wouldn't have to provide eligibility-threatening benefits to kids while still influencing them to come to Eugene.
Last, it's hard to estimate just how big a boost this gives Lyles' credibility. The natural inclination for many has been to paint Lyles as a snitch, someone embittered by Oregon's decision to cut off the payments and essentially throw him under the bus. By personally diffusing a potential situation and rejecting the opportunity to pile more dirt on Kelly (especially after that initial Yahoo! interview), Lyles seems like less of a villian and more of, as Canzano noted in his piece linked above (which is truly worth a read regardless of the Jordans anecdote), a plain old human being.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 6:49 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 7:17 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
As reported earlier, controversial scouting service owner Willie Lyles told Yahoo! Sports that he received money from Oregon to indirectly steer recruits to Eugene, and that the infamous obsolete scouting report was sent in order to make the $25,000 payment appear more legitimate. Lyles also told Yahoo! that he met with the NCAA in March, and that he withheld details at that meeting that he would later reveal to Yahoo!.
Oregon's options at this point are simple: dispute heavily Lyles' version of events, or fire head coach Chip Kelly.
If Lyles isn't telling the truth, obviously, that's not Oregon's fault, nor should it necessitate any discipline for Kelly. That said, Oregon had better be on the offensive about that right now, and have a paper trail to back it up. Simply repeating that Oregon doesn't think it did anything wrong isn't going to fly anymore -- not with Lyles' statements out there and the litany of NCAA violations possible here. Lyles said what just about everybody was thinking -- that the "scouting report" was a sham, and that the money was really for some sort of indirect coercive influence -- and he's got the ambiguously worded cards from two different Oregon coaches (including Kelly) to back it up.
That all said, the existing evidence as of right now paints Kelly and Oregon as brazen flouters of NCAA rules, to the point that the best thing Lyles said about recruiting arrangement was that he wasn't directly influencing the prospects' decisions. That appears to be a distinction without much of a difference, however. Look at what Lyles said about getting five-star RB recruit Lache Seastrunk to Oregon:
Lyles then says outright that it was an indirect but pivotal role in getting Seastrunk to Oregon, but... that sounds pretty direct. And as for the amount of influence was involved here, Lyles basically says outright that Oregon went around the wishes of Seastrunk's mother. To see Seastrunk not only calling out Alabama head coach Nick Saban at Toomer's Corner while being recruited by Auburn in 2009, but still talking fondly of the Tigers in the lead up to the BCS Championship Game, it certainly appears that a significant amount of work was put into getting Seastrunk to Oregon instead of Auburn. Whether that was legal work is for the NCAA to decide.
Here's how bad the situation is for Oregon: the best argument Kelly and the Ducks can make is that the $25,000 couldn't have been used to land Seastrunk and the other recruits, because if there's one thing the Cam Newton ($180,000) and Patrick Peterson ($70,000) situations showed us, $25,000 is far below asking price for even one high-profile player. And they'd be right. It still doesn't answer the question of what the $25,000 was really playing for, though, and that's the question that may derail Oregon's program and Kelly's career right as both were getting good.