The silence is deafening. The silence is telling. Oregon Ducks head football coach Chip Kelly hasn’t said a word about his suspicious relationship with so-called street agent Willie Lyles. The bunker mentality is now firmly in place.
As a result, a media circus will erupt on July 26 in Los Angeles when Kelly faces reporters for the first time during the Pac-12 Media Day.
“Those expecting him to say much on the recruiting issues in L.A., I feel are going to be sorely disappointed,” OU spokesman David Williford told the Oregonian.
Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens sent an email to key supporters just a few days ago saying the school is still reviewing the use of outside recruiting services and takes the matter very seriously.
Last January, Oregon played the Auburn Tigers for the BCS National Championship. Auburn won 22-19. Now, the NCAA is investigating both schools.
When you add Ohio State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Tennessee and USC to the mix, college football is beginning to get the same dirty reputation as professional cycling and Major League Baseball during the steroid era.
The Associated Press is reporting that Oregon hired the high-profile law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King. Attorney Michael Glazier leads the firm’s Collegiate Sports Practice Group, which represents schools and individuals facing NCAA infractions. Glazier is an insider who spent seven years working for the NCAA on compliance issues. His job will be to soften the blow that could be coming from the NCAA hammer.
At issue is the Ducks’ allegedly inflated $25,000 payment to Lyles’ Complete Scouting Services in Houston. Lyles may have steered star Texas high school players Lache Seastrunk and LaMichael James to Oregon in exchange for the cash.
Oregon issued a $25,000 check to Lyles in March of last year, right after Seastrunk signed a letter of intent to play for the Ducks. It would be an NCAA violation if Oregon paid him to use his influence to steer a recruit to Oregon.
Lyles even accompanied James, a Heisman Trophy finalist, to the Heisman ceremony last December. Ironically, James lost the Heisman to Auburn’s Cam Newton, whose father tried to orchestrate an $180,000 pay-for-play scheme with Mississippi State — tainting Newton’s Heisman Trophy and Auburn’s first national championship in 53 years — in one incredible act of arrogance and stupidity, given Cam Newton’s exceptional athletic abilities.
Oregon allegedly paid Lyles $25,000 last year for highlight video of potential recruits from 22 states, but the school can’t seem to locate the videos.
Last March, Yahoo Sports was working on a story about Oregon’s relationship with Lyles. That apparently resulted in a last minute request for player information that’s looking and more like a cover-up.
“They said they just needed anything,” Lyles told Yahoo Sports. “They asked for last-minute (stuff). So I gave them last minute (stuff). I gave them, like, old stuff that I still had on my computer because I never thought that stuff would see the light of day.”
That “old stuff” turned out to be 140 out-of-date player profiles and a few current player profiles that mysteriously arrived at Oregon a year after the school paid Lyles $25K.
Oregon’s official word on the Lyles matter came just a few weeks ago.
“The University of Oregon athletic department has and will continue to fully cooperate with the NCAA inquiry,” Oregon AD Rob Mullens said. “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.”
These days, “integrity” is starting to lose its true meaning.
Chip Kelly’s job is on the line. The Oregon Ducks’ 2010 season is on the line. And the Ducks’ 2011 season looks like it could be on life support as the NCAA digs deeper.
Video courtesy of hilltopdub.