Friday, March 4, 2011

NCAA has Oregon Ducks in the crosshairs?

Oregon? Seriously?

Apparently so, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports Investigative Reporter Charles Robinson.

According to State of Oregon expenditure records, the university paid $25,000 to Will Lyles of Complete Scouting Services in Houston, and $3,745 to Baron Flenory of New Level Athletics. Lyles is a former athletic trainer who recently was serving as a mentor to highly touted Ducks running back recruit Lache Seastrunk. Meanwhile, Flenory runs the Badger Sports Elite 7-on-7 football camps which have featured several celebrated Ducks signees including running back DeAnthony Thomas, defensive back Cliff Harris, defensive back Dior Mathis and wideout Tacoi Sumler. Flenory had a personal training relationship with recent Ducks signee Anthony Wallace.

If Lyles and Flenory aided in or were involved in any way in the recruitment of student athletes to Oregon, they would be classified as boosters by the NCAA, and any payment to them from the school would be considered a violation of Bylaw 13. Bylaw 13 prohibits boosters from directing a recruit to a school.

Two quick observations on the news that practically exploded teh innerwebs and Twitter yesterday as I was traveling on a business trip and attending meetings related to the “day job.”

First, it’s quite a stretch to believe that Oregon committed major violations here. According to the story, both Flenory and Lyles appeared to be in compliance with rules that existed at the time of the transactions, and Flenory changed his business model in response to adjustments in NCAA procedure. Robinson is correct that rules were broken if either individual steered the players to the school, but I don’t think the booster classification would fit as well as an agent designation. I’ll need time to study the particulars.

Secondly, Lache Seastrunk was one of the recruits involved in Auburn’s infamous “Big Cat Weekend.” While there are no allegations (yet) of NCAA violations regarding AU’s recruitment of Seastrunk, teh fambly must really be growing tired of seeing their institution tied to NCAA investigations.

The league is already investigating the 2009 recruitment of Cam Newton, and that probe has recently expanded to include a look-see into the recruitment of Trovon Reed and Greg Robinson, two highly touted recruits from Thibodaux, Louisiana. Unsubstantiated reports also have the NCAA looking into irregularities in Arkansas and Georgia as well.  The peril for AU is that the longer the NCAA Enforcement staff’s probes go on, the more likely it is that they build a larger and more damaging case.

It’s gotta be worrisome.

NOTE: The blogging is going to be scarce again today and through the weekend as I wrap up this business trip and follow that with some Carnival fun in the streets of Mobile. Laissez les bon temps rouler, y’all.

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