If you're an Oregon fan you may want to pour yourself a drink and sit down before you continue reading any further.
In a report released by Yahoo on Friday, Will Lyles -- the "street agent" who has been the subject of an NCAA investigation at Oregon in recent months -- detailed his relationship with Oregon in helping the school land recruits like LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk amongst others with Yahoo's Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel. Amongst the things talked about is the $25,000 the school paid Lyles for recruiting reports that eventually turned out to be a few years old, and things don't look good for Oregon if Lyles' side of the story is true.
Embattled scouting service owner Will Lyles told Yahoo! Sports that University of Oregon coach Chip Kelly personally approved a controversial $25,000 fee that sparked an ongoing NCAA investigation and was in constant contact as Lyles provided the Ducks with recruiting assistance that may have violated NCAA rules.While Chip Kelly declined to comment on the story, Oregon spokesman Dave Williford said that the school's stance "hasn't changed from our original statement" and the the school believes "it did nothing wrong." A statement that is contradicted by Lyles saying that Oregon's assistant director of football operations Josh Gibson played a role in bringing Lache Seastrunk to Eugene.
In a wide-ranging, multi-day interview, Lyles said Kelly "scrambled" in late February and asked Lyles to submit retroactive player profiles to justify the $25,000 payment to his company, just days before the transaction was revealed in a March 3 Yahoo! Sports report. Lyles also provided details of his fledgling company – Complete Scouting Services (CSS) – as well as the extent of his relationship with numerous Texas high school stars and his role in Ducks' recruitment of certain prospects.
Lyles insists Oregon did not make a direct request or payment to steer recruits to Eugene. However, he now says Oregon did not pay him for his work as a traditional scout, but for his influence with top recruits and their families and his ability to usher prospects through the signing and eligibility process. That dual role as mentor to prospects and paid contractor to Oregon is believed to be a focus of the NCAA probe.
"I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits," Lyles said. "The service I provided went beyond what a scouting service should … I made a mistake and I'm big enough of a man to admit I was wrong."
Lyles said Oregon's assistant director of football operations, Josh Gibson, had direct knowledge – and played an ancillary role – in Lyles helping Temple (Texas) High School star Lache Seastrunk petition to have his grandmother, rather than his mother, sign his national letter of intent with the Ducks in February 2010. Seastrunk's mother, who expressed opposition to her son about attending Oregon, otherwise could have blocked the signing.The report then goes on to detail how Lyles helped a number of players make their way to Oregon, including having LaMichael James transfer to a school in Arkansas during his final semester of high school so that he wouldn't have to take a standardized test that could have affected his eligibility to play college football. Lyles also said that Chip Kelly, who was then Oregon's offensive coordinator, believed the transfer was a "great idea."
"Indirectly I played a pivotal role in [Seastrunk signing with Oregon]," Lyles said.
All in all, there's a whole lot in the Yahoo report that does not shine a good light on Oregon and it's relationship with Lyles. I recommend heading over there to read the entire thing. That is, unless you're an Oregon fan. If that's the case you should probably just pour yourself another drink.
As for the school's reaction to the story, athletic director Rob Mullens released a statement on Friday night.
“The University of Oregon athletic department has and will continue to fully cooperate with the NCAA inquiry,” said Mullens. “Our department is committed to helping the NCAA in any way possible and until their work is complete, we are unable to comment further.
“Oregon athletics remains committed to operating a program of integrity.”