Thursday night, Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports reported that University of Oregon expense records show money going to two men who are tied to “multiple recruits who signed letters of intent with the school.”
For those unfamiliar with how this aspect of recruiting works in college football, scouting services are run all over the country by people who are not affiliated directly with any one school, or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. They act as outside scouts for programs who can’t send their own recruiters to see the athlete in person. Often, they put together tapes and other information on recruits and provide it to colleges who might be interested in the player.
According to Oregon coach Chip Kelly, “Most programs purchase recruiting services.” This in itself is not against NCAA regulations.
What is against NCAA regulations is paying someone to influence a player’s decision on where to play. These are the allegations now surrounding Oregon’s relationship with a man named Willie Lyles.
Oregon financial documents show a $25,000 payment to Lyles just days after highly-touted recruit Lache Seastrunk signed a letter of intent with the school. The payment was made for recruiting services, but far exceeds the $5,000 a handful of football coaches polled by ESPN yesterday say that recruiting services typically charge. In the previous two seasons, Oregon paid Lyles $16,500 or his recruiting services.
Perhaps most surprised by the news was Lache Seastrunk’s mother, Evelyn. She told ESPN, “Willie said he was a trainer. Now Oregon says he’s a scout? Is he on Oregon’s payroll? If Willie Lyles collected $25,000 off my son he needs to be held accountable. The NCAA must find out for me. I don’t know how to digest someone cashing in on my son.”
New information made available today on ChuckOliver.net from a source who used to be a business associate of Lyles suggests Lyles has a habit of preying on athletes with single mothers, like Seastrunk.
Ingram Smith, author of the ChuckOliver.net story, makes an interesting point about the origin of the story. Last night the story broke on Yahoo! Sports, ESPN and Sports Illustrated, leaving Smith to wonder if the same source didn’t tip off all three media outlets.
Smith has sources who tell him that the University of Texas has been growing suspicious of Lyles for awhile. Says Smith, “Inside the Longhorn’s program there is tremendous suspicion regarding Lyles’ influence on some of the state’s top talent and how many of the state’s best players that were associated with Lyles, like Seastrunk, are leaving the state at an historically high rate and under fishy circumstances.”
There seems to be a growing number of instances where schools are rumored to be “tattling” on other schools. Remember that both Mississippi State and University of Florida were rumored to have pointed the finger at Cam Newton initially. Instead of being like a fraternity who protects its members at all costs, it appears college football is splintering as schools battle for top recruits and championships. Given the number of coaches and assistants who move around each and every year, taking with them inside knowledge of their former programs, look for this phenomenon to continue to grow.
This article offers the personal observations of Kristi Dosh, and does not represent the views of her law firm or its clients. Any information contained herein does not constitute legal advice. Consult your own attorney for legal advice on these matters.