Oregon Football, Willie Lyles And NCAA Bylaw 13.14.3

EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 02: Fans celebrate the Oregon Ducks 49-31 victory over the UCLA Bruins during the Pac 12 Championship Game on December 2, 2011 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

So Willie Lyles offered his legal expertise on the Oregon football case, which is probably something Duck fans want to hear as much as "S-E-C SPEED". Here's what he had to say.

Other stuff from Cirminiello's Twitter after the jump.

Regarding breach of contract for the other $25K ... believes the money is owed, but partaking in another circus not worth it ...

..." Never once in my relations with Oregon was I asked to steer kids for pmt" ... he told that to NCAA as well in meetings

on third-party recruiting ... why is it that no one ever investigates certain high school coaches?

on Van Malone: "His allegations were absurd. If I asked for $80K, why did he call me a year later about a player?"

The comments do seem a bit contradictory and defensive, although to be fair this appears to have been Lyles's tenor throughout this investigation. And I doubt Lyles feels like he did anything wrong based on current NCAA regulations; he provided a recruiting service (outmoded and outdated, but still a service) in exchange for money, as is generally the case between colleges and recruiting services. So technically he took advantage of a clever loophole that gamed the system quite well for him.

As generally tends to be the case in the relationships between athletic programs and third-parties, the former will be the ones to bear the brunt.

Basically, how the NCAA rules on this case will depend on how they view the $25,000 payment he received for those ancient recruiting stone tablets. While Lyles himself was possibly receiving the actual payment for actively recruiting players to Oregon or (the cardinal sin) steering players to be Ducks in exchange for money. Both cases could result in some serious ramifications for the Athletic program.

John Infante of Athletics Scholarships has this report that talks about how the hammer could potentially fall on Oregon because of current accusations regarding recruiting misconduct.

Oregon’s case is the first major investigation involving a relatively new version of NCAA bylaw 13.14.3. The bylaw defines which recruiting services schools may subscribe to. To be permissible, a recruiting or scouting service must:

  1. Be publicly available to all institutions at the same published price;
  2. Publish information at least four times per year;
  3. Identify the geographic scope and provide broad-based coverage of that geographic area;
  4. Provide individual analysis beyond demographic information or rankings; and
  5. Provide access to samples or previews of the information.

...

The rule was expanded to all sports for a while but now applies just to football and basketball. It is an odd rule because it does not prohibit exactly what it is trying to combat: institutions buying subscriptions to recruiting services to gain access to prospects. Instead, the rule attempts to separate legitimate recruiting services from faux ones designed as a front for payoffs from coaches. It is a highly detailed and technical rule aimed at a fuzzier problem.

Infante goes onto explain (in great detail, it's well worth the read), how dire the political and legal ramifications could be for the Ducks. Legally, if NCAA enforcement finds Oregon to have paid for a recruiting service that violates the tenor of the bylaw above, then they really have little wiggle room to escape punishment. The best move would then be to self-impose penalties and willingly take every punishment the NCAA gives them in order to evade more severe consequences (see USC, Mike Garrett).

Politically, Infante also explains how hard it'll be for the Ducks to evade punishment. The Lyles situation illustrates the nightmare the NCAA wants to avoid at all costs, which is third parties steering recruits to schools in exchange for cash handoffs. Considering how harsh the NCAA came down on Penn State unilaterally, it's hard to see Oregon getting off scot-free.

There is no clear date in sight for a resolution to this case. But a decision will be coming, and Oregon fans probably can start to feel the tension just a bit.

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