The University of Oregon Ducks are swimming in some pretty hot water right now.
Yahoo Sports is reporting that the school paid scout Will Lyles $25,000 to retroactively submit scouting reports in an attempt to cover up the true nature of the work Lyles was doing for the school: influencing recruits in a manner impermissable according to NCAA rules.
Following up on a published report from earlier this year that drew the NCAA's attention, Yahoo tracked down Lyles to get his side of the story.
"I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits," he said, according to the report. "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."
According to Lyles, days before the story first broke about his ties to the school, Oregon was "scrambling" to get paperwork from him so that it could justify paying him for his scouting services. Lyles sent the school old, out-of-date scouting reports to appease the university, but the paperwork was basically useless. The bulk of the players in the reports were from the 2009 recruiting class had already chosen colleges.
What the article insinuates is that the school was not paying Lyles for his scouting of players. They were paying him because he could influence top recruits to play for Oregon.
Lyles grew close to several talented high school prospects who ultimately chose to attend Oregon, including Heisman finalist LaMichael James and five-star recruit Lache Seastrunk.
James, who finished in third place in Heisman voting last season, was reportedly advised by Lyles to transfer high schools so that he could avoid a standardized test that would have kept him from graduating and then enrolling at Oregon.
Lyles also says that he advised Seastrunk on what steps to take to allow his grandmother, and not his mother, sign off on his National Letter of Intent (LOI). LOI's require a guardian's signature if the recruit is under 21, which Seastrunk was. Reportedly, his mother wanted her son to go to LSU instead of Oregon.
The evidence against the school includes records of phone and email conversations with members of the school including head coach Chip Kelly, a Manchester N.H., native and former University of New Hampshire assistant coach, and the school's compliance director Bill Clever. In one note, Kelly thanks Lyles for "orchestrating" a visit to an Oregon game with three recruits.
The NCAA could come down hard on the school if it decides that Lyles qualifies as a representative of the school's athletics interests or if it thinks that Lyles provided the dreaded "impermissible benefits" to any recruits.
As usual for when it is still involved in an investigation, the NCAA declined to comment for the story.
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