Exclusive: NCAA Investigators In Eugene Friday

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports and Joe Schad and Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com reported Thursday that NCAA officials are investigating a recent $25,000 payment made by the University of Oregon to a Houston man who reportedly may have steered high school football prospects to the school’s football program.

Chip Kelly Lache Seastrunk Will Lyles

(Oregon Coach Chip Kelly, Lache Seastrunk, Seastrunk “Mentor” Willie Lyles)

In a line-by-line expenditure breakout from a University of Oregon budget summary dated June 30, 2010, a $25,000 payment from the university was authorized to Willie J. Lyles of “Complete Scouting Services.

Ken Goe of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN reported Thursday, “Lyles has a mentoring relationship with Oregon running back Lache Seastrunk.

In 2009, Seastrunk was a heavily recruited high school prospect from Temple, Texas.

ESPN.com reported Thursday:

Oregon athletics department spokesman Dave Williford confirmed to ESPN.com on Thursday that Oregon paid Lyles $25,000 for his recruiting services. Oregon’s payment to Lyles was made shortly after Seastrunk signed a national letter of intent in February 2010 to play football for the Ducks, choosing them over California, LSU and USC.

As noted by the Yahoo.com report:

If Lyles and (Dallas-based Baron) 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.

In the wake of the Yahoo and ESPN reports, a source familiar with the NCAA’s examination of possible recruiting impropriety involving the Oregon football program told me late Thursday that NCAA investigators will be in Eugene on Friday to initiate a more direct inspection of the recruiting tactics of school’s football program. I’m told the NCAA’s imminent presence in Eugene was in response to revelations in the Yahoo and ESPN reports published Thursday. Before the dueling, breaking news broke Thursday, the NCAA had no plans to be in Eugene.

Thanks in part to information detailed in the Yahoo and ESPN reports, I’ve also learned that the NCAA may request Oregon provide evidence of the “recruiting services” rendered by Lyles in particular. According to records obtained from the Harris County (TX) website, Lyles is the sole proprietor of the unincorporated “Complete Scouting Services” - the same business the University of Oregon paid $25,000 for recruiting services.

The one-person Complete Scouting Services operation is, according to Harris County property tax records, located at Lyles’ home address in Houston.

Yahoo Sports described Complete Scouting Services thusly:

Lyles has also been affiliated with Complete Scouting Services, which claims to offer a national high school scouting and video database nationwide.

ESPN.com reported Thursday of Lyles’ business background:

A handful of FBS football coaches surveyed by ESPN.com on Thursday said recruiting services typically charge $5,000 or less per season for video footage and information about high school prospects.

In the past, Lyles has aligned himself with recruiting services.

But a person who once worked with Lyles said the $25,000 payment exceeded the $16,500 Oregon paid the recruiting service for its work during the previous two years. The source said Lyles’ affiliation with the recruiting service had been terminated prior to Lyles billing Oregon on his own.

Two recruiting services Lyles has been affiliated with since 2004, Elite Scouting Services and Complete Scouting Services, according to records obtained from the Harris County (TX) website, are listed as located at the Houston home address of Lyles.

I will have more details on the NCAA investigation into possible recruiting impropriety by the Oregon football program on Friday.