With Pac-12 Media Days just around the corner, reporters will have plenty of opportunities to ask Oregon coach Chip Kelly a question or 10 about the ongoing NCAA investigation surrounding the program’s ties to Willie Lyles and his Houston-based recruiting company, Complete Scouting Services.
Kelly, on the other hand, will get to channel his inner Gene Chizik and say a lot without really saying anything.
But Kelly won’t be the first UO representative to break silence on the matter when he does take the podium. Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens preemptively sent an e-mail to important UO “constituents” informing them that the program is “still in the midst of an extensive review of the circumstances surrounding the use of outside recruiting services” and is taking the investigation “very seriously.”
Specifically, Mullens sent the e-mail to trustees of the University of Oregon Foundation, members of the UO alumni association board of directors and high-roller donors.
Below are some snippets from the e-mail, courtesy of the Eugene Register-Guard:
“The University of Oregon football program, from Coach Chip Kelly through the entire organization, has tremendous respect for the NCAA’s important role in monitoring collegiate athletics and, to this end, continues to fully cooperate with the NCAA’s ongoing review.
“The University of Oregon is committed to holding itself and the individuals associated with the University accountable to the highest standards.
“As part of the University’s commitment to accountability, we want to reiterate that the institution takes this matter very seriously and remains dedicated to an open and transparent approach with the NCAA.”
“The firm [Bond, Schoeneck & King] has been charged with making an independent assessment of the football program’s use of outside recruiting services. In addition, they have been asked to provide the University with recommendations for areas of improvement within the football program and athletics department in order to meet best practices.
“We look forward to making the recommendations public at the conclusion of the process. The University, our Head Coach and the entire Athletic Department are fully committed to ensuring our program is following best practices.”
Oregon has come under scrutiny since March when a story broke that the Ducks paid Lyles $25,000 for his services. Recruiting services are legal within NCAA rules, but according to documents, UO received a “2011 National Package” that was, in essence, completely and utterly useless.
(Writer’s note: I previously stated it was a “2010 National Package”; it was a “2010 National Evaluation”)
An invoice from Lyles to UO also stated that game and highlight footage was part of the package, although the university has yet to release any video.
Other invoices obtained by the Oregonian also show that fellow Pac-12 member Cal received what was described as a “2010 National Package” from Lyles for $5,000, although details of the contents of that package have yet to be released.
Oregon stands by its initial assertion that their business relationship with Lyles is completely within the confines of NCAA bylaws. However, Lyles came out swinging in an interview at the very beginning of this month claiming that Oregon “paid for… my access and influence with recruits”, rather than Lyles’ ability as a scouting professional.
The NCAA could possibly determine that to be a violation of its bylaws.
So, what will Kelly say when he’s finally asked about the investigation next week? If he’s learned anything, probably nothing.