By Aubrey Wieber
Published by Emerald Media Group on 6/26/13
The Ducks will be bowl-eligible this fall.
The NCAA has announced that there will be no bowl ban for Oregon as a result of its violations of NCAA recruiting rules. The football program will lose one scholarship for two years and endure a three year probationary period, which was imposed because of Oregon’s repeat violator status. In addition, the football program will also receive a ban on recruiting services during probation.
After Oregon and the NCAA agreed in December that Oregon was guilty of seven major violations, Oregon proposed a similar punishment: two years probation and a loss of a scholarship for three years. The NCAA denied the proposal.
The punishment will likely not have a drastic effect on the football program. For the past four years, Oregon has only used 83 of its 85 available scholarships. The loss of scholarships was imposed by the University during its appeals with the NCAA.
Chip Kelly, the head coach who led the Ducks to four BCS bowls during the time, has received a show-cause penalty from the NCAA, which means he can’t coach college football for 18-months. The penalty for Kelly, along with Oregon’s soft punishment, is evidence that the NCAA largely found Kelly at fault.
“The committee noted that it is the head coach’s responsibility to know the rules and ensure that every coach and staff member complies with those rules,” said Gregory Sankey, associate commissioner of the SEC and NCAA Committee on Infractions spokesperson. “There was certainly knowledge that the departure (of Kelly) had occurred but we have certain resources like the show-cause penalty, which has been applied.”
It is unclear if the 18-month show-cause penalty handed to Kelly will have any impact, it is up to the NFL if they want to take action, but Kelly issued a statement released by the Philadelphia Eagles apologizing for any involvement he had on the infractions.
“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. “I accept my share of responsibility for the actions that led to the penalties.”
Overall, the athletic administration and Duck fans are likely pleased with the decision. After the investigation was drawn out for 27 months and the NCAA denying Oregon’s self-proposed penalty, loss of a scholarship and three years probation is minor when compared to sanctions inflicted on other programs.
When asked if the final verdict was a slap on the wrist for the Oregon football program, Sankey said, ”This was a multi-year investigation. No institution wants to go through this.”
The committee feels it has doled out adequate punishments for the football program.
“I have not met an institution that wants to go through the infractions and enforcement process,” said Sankey. “This was a multi-year effort that certainly existed and there are penalties that effect the program. The committee made their decision based on the information presented to it, not on other speculation and evaluation.”
Oregon’s investigation, and the soft punishment, will affect schools nationwide. In the future, the NCAA Committee on Infractions claims that it will run investigations differently, possibly changing the nature of penalties.
“There is an understanding that as we move forward, the penalty and violation structure will be changing,” said Sankey. “But that’s not the evaluation that occurred in this case.”
In a press release from the University of Oregon, the athletic administration echoed the Committee on Infractions, claiming that they were indeed guilty of infractions and agree with the committee’s penalty.
“The Committee on Infractions has issued its findings which were substantially consistent with recommendations by the University of Oregon,” said the University in its press release.
The athletic department has declined to comment further and have scheduled a press conference for 2p.m. when athletic director Rob Mullens will address the media.
The sanctions came in the wake of seven NCAA infractions committed by Oregon. The infractions were made public in a report requested by Portland news outlet KATU.
1) Willie Lyles deemed a booster.
Lyles, a Texas-based scout, was known for having close relationships to some of the nations top recruits. He ran Complete Scouting Services, a company that sold recruit contact information and highlight reels to football programs around the country.
Oregon purchased Lyles’ services and eventually recruited a running back, Lache Seastrunk, who had close ties to Lyles. The NCAA deemed Lyles a booster and claimed that his influence on Seastrunks’ decision to sign with Oregon was illegal.
Lyles has been connected to other scandals including allegedly promising to deliver star cornerback recruit Patrick Peterson to Texas A&M for $80,000.
2) Oregon paid for recruiting services deemed illegal by the NCAA.
Oregon paid Lyles for $35,000 for multiple recruiting services between 2008-11 that the NCAA found to be improper.
3) Redacted portion.
The third violation was so heavily redacted from the report that it is unclear what the infraction is. A portion less redacted shows that it is considered a “major violation” by the NCAA.
4) Impermissible calls.
Between 2007-11, the NCAA has found that Oregon is guilty of making 730 impermissible phone calls to recruits and their high school coaches.
5) Too many coaches.
Between 2009-11, the NCAA found Oregon to be guilty of having one too many coaches involved in recruiting.
6) No “atmosphere of compliance.”
While the NCAA did not say that Oregon “lacked institutional control,” it did claim that they did not promote an atmosphere of compliance. This was likely caused by the impermissible phone calls and the extra coach involved in recruiting.
7) Oregon failed to recruit by the book.
The NCAA found Oregon guilty of several recruiting practices, such as giving out apparel to recruits and calling high school players and coaches.
While college football programs disobeying NCAA rules and regulations have become somewhat commonplace, Oregon had one thing going for it. Every program that was severely hindered by sanctions lied to the NCAA during investigations. In the report from the NCAA, it was clearly stated that Oregon has been honest and compliant during the investigation.
“The committee was appreciative of the former head coach and the former director of football operations participating in the hearing,” said Sankey.