Documents: Oregon, NCAA agree ‘major violations’ committed

27 Comments

Chip Kelly may be off to the NFL, but the NCAA cloud that formed on his watch still looms over the Oregon football program.

In documents released to both The Oregonian and KATU-TV, both Oregon and the NCAA agreed that the school’s football program had committed what the television station describes as “several major violations” in its use of so-called recruiting services.  The documents were provided to the media entities following open records requests that were several months in the making.

The vast majority of the allegations — which in addition to utilizing suspect recruiting services include impermissible phone calls and too many coaches on the recruiting trail — occurred under Kelly, who left shortly after the first of the year for the Philadelphia Eagles.

One of the more significant takeaways from the released documents is that the NCAA’s enforcement staff made “no finding of lack of institutional control and no finding of unethical conduct.”  Such a development, if it holds through the next couple of steps in the process, could be a signal that the Ducks will avoid significant sanctions.

For its part, Oregon released a lengthy “no comment” in response to the reports.

“The review is ongoing until the NCAA Committee on Infractions issues its final report,” the school’s statement began. “The integrity of the process and our continued full cooperation with the NCAA prohibits us from publicly discussing the specifics of this matter.”

In March of 2011, both Yahoo! and ESPN.com published reports that called into question the financial relationship between Oregon and a pair of so-called recruiting services.  One of those services was/is Complete Scouting Services, solely owned and operated by purported “street agent” Willie Lyles.

In late February of 2010, Oregon purchased for $25,000 from Lyles’ scouting service what was described as a “2011 National Package” that detailed recruits from several states.  One of the biggest problems with that? The package for 2011 purchased by UO contained zero recruits that would make up the following year’s recruiting class.  Instead, the vast majority of players highlighted in the 143-page book UO received from Lyles contained data on members of the 2009 recruiting class.

In the midst of rumors that Lyles had steered recruits such as Lache Seastrunk to the Ducks — and that he was paid handsomely for said steering (allegedly) — the man at the center of the controversy claimed in July of 2011 that UO “paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits. 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.”

That claim came a couple of months after Lyles, who has spoken to the NCAA on multiple occasions, labeled as ““unequivocally false” reports that he steered recruits to universities.

It was reported in late December that UO will appear in front of NCAA’s Committee on Infractions at some point this year, likely in the spring, after the school’s attempt at a summary disposition failed.  That failure apparently stemmed from the severity of one of the allegations involving Lyles.  From The Oregonian:

Oregon and the NCAA, however, reached an impasse late in 2012 while attempting to agree on the severity of one violation concerning the Ducks’ $25,000 payment to Texas-based talent scout Willie Lyles.  The Ducks believe the impermissible “oral reports” delivered from Lyles constitute a secondary violation; NCAA enforcement officials believe them to be another “major violation.”

Because the summary disposition fell through, the television station writes, “the findings discussed in this draft document will not necessarily be binding.”

According to the document dump late Monday night, the school has already proposed two self-imposed sanctions: two-year probation and a reduction of one scholarship for each of the next three seasons.  Following the hearing in front of the COI, sanctions will be handed down on the football program, at which point UO can either accept the punitive measures or appeal all or part of the sanctions.

UPDATED 11:38 a.m. ET: In response to the document dump, former Ducks and current Eagles head coach Chip Kelly released a statement that echoed comments made last December.  For what it’s worth, here it is.

“I am aware of the recent reports and of the ongoing investigation being conducted by the NCAA and the University of Oregon. While at Oregon, I know we were fully cooperative with all aspects of the investigation and I will continue to contribute in any way that I can. But until the NCAA rules on the matter, I will have no further comment.”

Reports: ankle injury likely to keep WR Michael Pittman out of USC’s opener

Getty Images
Leave a comment

In his college football preview Bible, the great Phil Steele had Michael Pittman listed as one of three starting wide receivers for USC.  With the start of a new season a little more than two weeks away, Pittman doesn’t appear set to make that magazine projection come to fruition.

According to multiple reports, Pittman suffered an ankle injury during practice Tuesday and was taken off the field via a cart after having a boot placed on his left foot.  While X-rays taken post-practice showed no break or fracture, the sophomore has been diagnosed with the dreaded high-ankle sprain.

As a result, the Los Angeles Daily News writes that “[i]t seems unlikely he would be able to play against Western Michigan.” Rivals.com tweeted that the injury “[p]robably keeps him out of season opener.”

At least for now, the football program has yet to officially rule Pittman out for the opener.

Pittman was a four-star 2016 recruit, rated as the No. 9 receiver in the country.  As a true freshman last season, he caught six passes for 82 yards.

Next Chance U: Dismissed Oklahoma QB Chris Robison will join Auburn transfer John Franklin III at FAU

Getty Images
1 Comment

In a span of just a few hours, Lane Kiffin Tuesday bolstered his first Florida Atlantic roster with a pair of Power Five transfers.

In the middle of the afternoon Tuesday, Auburn confirmed that John Franklin III had decided to transfer from the Tigers in order to be closer to his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home. Not long after, the quarterback-turned-wide receiver revealed on his Instagram account that he is “coming home and looking forward to playing my last collegiate season at FAU under Coach Lane Kiffin.”

Franklin would come to the Owls as a graduate transfer, giving him immediate eligibility.

Thank you Tiger Nation #WDE

A post shared by John Franklin III (@jf3_5) on Aug 15, 2017 at 12:45pm PDT

Not even four hours later, Chris Robison took to social media on his private Twitter account to announce that he too will be transferring into Kiffin’s FAU program. The quarterback was dismissed by Oklahoma earlier this month for violating unspecified team rules.

A four-star member of the Sooners’ 2017 recruiting class, Robison was rated as the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 29 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 173 recruit on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. As an early enrollee, Robison took part in spring practice and played in the spring game, completing 3-of-5 passes for 49 yards.

Roughly 12 hours after that game, he was arrested for being drunk in public. Because of only what were described as “personal reasons,” Robison wasn’t enrolled in summer classes and didn’t take part in football workouts during the same period.

Texas OT announces transfer from Texas Longhorns

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Texas Longhorns are a program many are expecting to see take a step forward in the first year with new head coach Tom Herman at the helm, but the Longhorns saw the depth on the offensive line just take a hit on Tuesday. Jean Delance, a former four-star recruit of the Longhorns, has announced via Twitter he is departing the program and has already been granted a release from his scholarship.

Reports out of Austin have suggested Delance was being moved around the offensive line with others competing for a spot on the line. Beyond looking for a fresh start, as Delance explains in his shared statement, the other factors leading to his decision have not been shared.

As for that fresh start, Delance will have to sit out the entire 2017 season if he transfers to another FBS program according to NCAA transfer rules. He would be ruled eligible to play this fall, however, if he transfers to a football program at the FCS level or below.

The Longhorns are already dealing with some offensive line concerns ahead of the start of the 2017 season. Elijah Rodriguez , a projected starter according to My San Antonio, will be missing some time due to an ankle issue that continues to linger.

Colorado and Northwestern line up future home-and-home series

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
1 Comment

Colorado and Northwestern have lined up a future home-and-home series for those planning ahead. The two schools announced a home-and-home series that will be played in 2025 and 2026, with each game being played on home campuses. None of that neutral field nonsense here!

Northwestern of the Big Ten will host Colorado of the Pac-12 on September 19, 2026. The Wildcats will make the trip to Boulder, Colorado the following season on September 11, 2027. The two schools have faced each other twice before, with Northwestern securing a 35-11 victory in 1951 and Colorado blowing out the Wildcats by a score of 55-7 in 1978. Each team won a game on their home field.

“This will be a great series for several reasons,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a released statement.  “Not only is it a quality match-up between two great academic and Pac-12 and Big Ten institutions, it’s important for us to get to that part of the country and the Chicago area for our alumni we have there.”

You may remember a few years back, before the Big Ten expanded to 14 members and both conferences had 12 members, the Pac-12 backed out of an arrangement for a full conference vs. conference scheduling agreement with the Big Ten. That would have been fun to watch, similar to the various conference vs. conference series in college basketball, so any time we can get a Big Ten and Pac-12 team on the same field is to be praised.

As a Big Ten member, Northwestern is required to schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent. Northwestern has the power conference scheduling commitment fulfilled in 2017 with Duke, 2018 (Duke, Notre Dame), 2019 (at Stanford), 2021 (at Duke), 2022 (Duke), 2023 (at Duke), 2024 (Duke), 2026 (Colorado), and now in 2027 (at Colorado).

The Pac-12 has no similar scheduling requirement for Colorado.