Willie Lyles, owner of the Houston-based Complete Scouting Services, reportedly met with the NCAA today to discuss his business relationship with the University of Oregon, a source close to the situation has confirmed to the Eugene Register-Guard.
Lyles was featured on a podcast earlier today with Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel in which Lyles told Wetzel he was meeting with NCAA investigators.
Lyles said it was the second such meeting with the NCAA, the first being in May when he was, by his own account, interviewed “for six hours”.
The specifics of the NCAA’s agenda earlier today is still unknown, but the heart of their investigation into Oregon’s football program surrounds the suspicion that Lyles steered certain recruits — namely, running backs Laches Seastrunk (now at Baylor) and LaMichael James — to sign with the Ducks in exchange for financial compensation from the school.
Both Lyles and Oregon have denied that Lyles “steered” recruits.
But when UO released scouting information provided by Lyles — known as a “2011 National Package” — that was shown to contain no recruits for that year’s class, it caught the attention of the national media. Likewise, the school’s $25,000 invoice for the useless information caught the attention of the NCAA.
From the July 1 interview:
“I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits,” Lyles said. “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.”
Lyles told Wetzel in the most recent podcast that he provided both outdated and legitimate information to his clients, with most of the useful information reportedly being verbal.
From the Register-Guard:
“He also talked about his $6,000 transaction with LSU, ostensibly for a junior college scouting package for the states of California and Kansas. Lyles said he provided LSU instead with information on Texas high school recruits, and that the junior-college package was a way for LSU to skirt a rule about purchasing only one package per state.”
Oregon, LSU and Cal are all clients of Lyles; the former two have been under the most scrutiny for their business connection to Lyles. Incidentally, the two are playing each other this Saturday in an opening-weekend top-five matchup that many have dubbed “The Lyles Bowl”.
While there’s no bylaw against a bad business relationship with a scouting service, there are questions if Oregon bent the rules of allowable recruiting practices — and if so, by how much.
That’s for the NCAA to decide; Oregon and coach Chip Kelly have maintained throughout the investigation that they have done nothing wrong.