Monday, September 19, 2011

On Notice

The official word was received, of course, from the NCAA at some point during the week. Ever feeling the need to snipe, media folks have pounced on when Oregon chose to announce their receipt of the Notice of Inquiry as some sort of "fowl play" intended to divert attention away from the announcement.

What these constant critics do not seem to understand is that NO time would be considered a "good" time. If you announce it in the middle of the week, the critic will say it is being done to "bury the story" before the game. The sad truth is, there are just some people who you just cannot satisfy.

Further making their sniping even more trivial is the fact that even the least rational fan; the myopic fan who thinks nothing happened, knew that this day was coming. This day is not a surprise. As Mullens said, this is the next step in the process.

The question now becomes, what will the NCAA think of this sordid affair when all is said and done? This is like a messy divorce with both parents accusing each other of child abuse. And, in reality, there was likely no abuse of the children; just an abuse of each other.

Will Lyles is a man who has been in this game for a long time; he knows what he is doing. For him to call himself "naive" and say that he just "should have known the rules better" is, simply put, disingenuous. Lyles knew the rules and he played tonsil hockey with them right under the noses of the distrustful parents. In a conversation with Lyles' former employer, I was told that "I told him [Lyles] a long time ago on three different conference calls with my partner that eventually his way of doing things would catch up to him."

If that is true, it begs another question; if his employer says he "knew" Lyles wasn't doing things the right way, why did he continue to employ him? In truth? Simple, this business is slimy. All around; recruiting is and always has been a slimy part of college football that very few people ever actually see first hand.

To be fair, though, it is not entirely slimy at every level. When I was at Lewis & Clark College, a Division III school in the Portland area, I sat in the room and discussed recruiting with the football coaches. I was there for visits. Nothing I saw there was along the level of Division I powerhouse recruiting.  Recruiting information was purchased and kids were called. From the initial call, relationships were built.

I was also at the University of South Dakota and witnessed plenty of recruits on campus; met with them as they were introduced to the Strength & Conditioning program. As an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, I saw a lot of first hand recruiting relationships. There was nothing all that slimy there.

Not true at the SEC, Pac-12, Big 10 level. The football programs at these schools are BIG business. There is more truth to movies like "Blue Chip" and "The Program" than many people realize. We see the movies and assume them to be dramatized fiction. And, they are, to a degree. However, as with most dramatizations, there IS an element of truth underlying the fiction.

When people wrestle in the mud, no one's hands are clean. Will Lyles knew what he was doing. Chip Kelly had some idea what this gray area entailed. In the end, though, this is not paying extra benefits to anyone; this is not paying for a recruit. Though many would like to make the case, it just is not true. The truth is something we may never fully know. What we know now, however, is that at the end of this process, there will likely be some form of penalties.


I think, though, that the NCAA ruling on Boise State can give some solace to Duck fans. Unless something else is discovered during the NCAA investigation, the infractions assumed certainly do not rise to the level as those at Boise State. This does not involve extra benefits to DOZENS of athletes. This does not involve multiple sports all being investigated simultaneously. This is a football matter that involves only a few athletes who had relationships with a scouting service. It involves a violation of one bylaw:

13.14.3 Recruiting or Scouting Services.  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;

(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.)  Effect of Violation.  Violations of Bylaw 13.14.3 and its subsections shall be considered institutional violations per Constitution 2.8.1; however, such violations shall not affect the prospective student-athlete’s eligibility. (Adopted: 8/5/04)
A couple of points on this. Recently Lyles has stated publicly that LSU attempted to  violate the main part of this bylaw by purchasing the "Junior College Package" to avoid purchasing more than one annual subscription to a particular service. And this is where Lyles' attempts to implicate everyone else around him to appear the innocent victim become clear. His reasoning for saying LSU paid for the Junior College Package are incorrect. He says that they "already had a Texas" package from another scouting service. But the bylaw does not say you cannot purchase from two different services for the same region, but that you cannot have more than one annual subscription to a particular service. In that regard, I think LSU escapes his charge.

Boise State was given 3 scholarship reductions per year for three years for a pattern of violations much more extensive. They were given this with the dreaded "Lack of Institutional Control" hanging over their heads. Do not expect Oregon's penalties to be worse, expect any potential sanctions to be lighter as far as scholarships are concerned. I think that the impact of sanctions will not be in scholarships, but recruiting visits. I would expect, when all is said and done, for the Ducks to have their number of allowable recruiting visits to be reduced for a year, for Chip Kelly's allowable off campus recruiting to be reduced for some portion of time and for the Ducks to lose maybe a couple of scholarships total over 2 years.

My final expectation is that the NCAA will completely re-write the rules regarding Scouting Services. And, if you think there are a lot of schools that hate Oregon now, just WAIT until they see the new rules that Oregon helps to write. They will NOT be favorable to a lot of different places.

(Note: The above is an opinion piece only and does not reflect the opinions of the NCAA, University of Oregon, Duck Sports Authority or any other entity.)
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