- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

PORTLAND, ORE. (AP) - A speeding citation issued to Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris has touched off an investigation by the school to determine whether NCAA rules were violated when a school employee allowed football players to use her rental car.

Harris, 20, was cited early Sunday morning after police said they clocked him driving at 118 mph on a suspended license in the rental.

An employee, who does not work in the athletic department, rented the car for personal use, university spokesman Dave Williford said Wednesday.

According to an email exchange between the employee and The Register-Guard newspaper, Harris and an unidentified football player asked her to extend the rental and compensated her for use of the car. She was told that another player _ not Harris _ would be driving, she told the newspaper.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach the employee, identified in news reports as Mindy Schmidling, were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Harris was pulled over about 4:35 a.m. PDT Sunday south of Albany, Ore., to the north of Eugene. Oregon State Police said he was cited for driving with a suspended license and exceeding the speed limit in excess of 100 mph.

The fine for driving a vehicle faster than 100 mph is $1,148.

The school’s compliance office is looking into the matter, Williford said, and the university has had preliminary discussions with both the Pac-10 and NCAA about the investigation.

Harris excelled as a sophomore last season at cornerback and on special teams. He had six interceptions and set an Oregon record with four punt returns for touchdowns.

Known for his entertaining banter with reporters, Harris dubbed the BCS championship “The Natty.” Oregon lost to Auburn in the title game in January after going 12-0 last season.

Oregon coach Chip Kelly said in a statement after the incident became public that the team was disappointed by Harris‘ lack of judgment, which he called unacceptable.

“I’ve said from the beginning that it should be a privilege to play football at the University of Oregon. With that said, individuals must bear the responsibilities for their own behavior,” Kelly said. “Once we have finished collecting all the information in this situation, we will determine the appropriate action.”

The Ducks are currently the subject of an inquiry by the NCAA over the team’s use of a pair of recruiting services. In March, the university was asked to provide documentation in the matter.

Oregon does not dispute that it paid two companies for information about potential recruits, but denies wrongdoing.



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