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NCAA puts Oregon football on probation for recruiting violations
The NCAA was unable to come to an agreement with Oregon on sanctions over recruiting violations by the football program under former coach Chip Kelly, so the issue was sent to the organization’s infractions committee.
The committee’s penalties ended up falling mostly in line with what Oregon had proposed earlier.
Oregon will lose a scholarship in each season during a three-year probation period, but avoided a bowl ban and other major penalties under sanctions issued by the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions on Wednesday.
The committee also placed an 18-month show-cause order on Kelly, a sanction that will likely have limited impact since he’s now coaching the Philadelphia Eagles.
For what was considered major recruiting violations, the outcome was about as good as Oregon could have expected.
“Throughout this process, there has been speculation and innuendo regarding the nature and severity of potential violations, much of which was unfounded,” Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. “As stated by the NCAA Enforcement Staff, the violations committed in this case were unintentional.”
Oregon lost one scholarship for the 2012-13 academic year and will lose another in 2013-14 under self-imposed sanctions. It also will have its total number of scholarships reduced by one from a maximum of 85 each of the next three seasons, also self-imposed.
The NCAA cut Oregon’s official paid visits from 56 to 37 for the next three academic years, reduced its evaluation days for each of the next three seasons and banned the program from using recruiting services during the probation period. Oregon must also disassociate itself from Willie Lyles’ Houston-based recruiting service, which was at the center of the investigation.
The show-cause order for Kelly will require schools to go before the infractions committee should they wish to hire him. Former assistant director of operations Josh Gibson was given a one-year show-cause order after the NCAA said he was aware of Lyles’ involvement in recruiting and routinely told him to tell recruits to contact football coaches.
“Now that the NCAA has concluded their investigation and penalized the University of Oregon and its football program, I want to apologize to the University of Oregon, all of its current and former players and their fans,” Kelly said in a statement. “I accept my share of responsibility for the actions that led to the penalties. As I have I stated before, the NCAA investigation and subsequent ruling had no impact on my decision to leave Oregon for Philadelphia. I have also maintained throughout that I had every intention to cooperate with the NCAA’s investigation, which I did.”
The NCAA had been looking into Oregon’s recruiting practices since questions arose over a 2010 payment of $25,000 to Lyles and his recruiting service, Complete Scouting Services. Lyles had a connection with Lache Seastrunk, a star prep running back from Texas who committed to Oregon in 2010, a month before the payment.
When Oregon later released the recruiting package it said Lyles had prepared for the school, the material was largely outdated. While use of services to identify potential recruits is allowed under NCAA rules, questions were raised about Lyles’ relationship with Seastrunk and other athletes from Texas, and whether he steered any prospects to the Ducks, which would be a violation.
Seastrunk redshirted for the Ducks his freshman year before transferring to Baylor prior to the 2011 season.
The infractions committee found that Lyles provided cash and free lodging to a prospect, and engaged in impermissible calls and off-campus contact with prospects, their families and high school coaches.
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