USC Assistant Quits After Being Tied To Will Lyles

Just two days before the Trojans’ opener against Minnesota, USC announced today that assistant football coach Willie Mack Garza had resigned his position.

Willie Mack Garza quits after being connected to Willie Lyles during Lyles interview with NCAA this week

USC’s official statement:

USC secondary coach Willie Mack Garza has resigned for personal reasons.

“I stepped down today from my coaching duties at USC,” said Garza, who was in his second year at USC. “I have some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address. I wish the Trojans the best and I am sorry I won’t be with them in what I know will be a very successful season.”

Garza’s resignation is a direct result of comments made to NCAA investigators earlier this week by former recruiting service operator Willie Lyles. In those comments, Lyles revealed to NCAA officials that he had previously had a working relationship with Garza.

Garza spent last season at USC and was hired by current Trojan Coach Lane Kiffin in a similar capacity at Tennessee, serving as an assistant coach for the Volunteers in 2009.

Brooks can be reached on Twitter, Facebook and directly at sportsbybrooks@gmail.com

Mike Bellotti: “I Believe There Will Be Sanctions”

During an appearance on Portland radio today, former Oregon head football coach Mike Bellotti defended his hand-picked successor to take over the Ducks program.

Mike Bellotti Believes Oregon Football Program Will Be Hit By Sanctions

(Kelly ex-boss, benefactor: ‘Chip said he’s done nothing wrong. I believe him’)

At a charity golf tournament in Bend, Oregon, Bellotti was asked by 750 The Game host Jay Allen about the current NCAA investigation into the Oregon football program’s recruiting practices. In response, the former Ducks coach said that he believed Kelly had done nothing wrong but that the UO program would eventually be hit by some manner of NCAA sanctions.

From the 750 The Game interview today:

Jay Allen: “You ran a very tight ship at Oregon and now the NCAA is taking a look at some things. Have you talked to Chip? What’s your take on what’s going on with that [NCAA investigation]?

Mike Bellotti: “I have talked to Chip and I feel it’s more probably a bad business deal than a bad choice about how they do business. Chip feels that he’s done nothing wrong and I believe him in that regard. I don’t know what’s gone down with [Houston-based recruiting service operator] Will Lyles and all that.

It’s a shame because it puts a black eye on everything. I think Oregon is still honestly a program that does it the right way.”


Jay Allen: “Do you think there will be any sort of sanctions? Do you have a read on that?Read more…

Lyles: Kelly Directly Involved In Possible Coverup

Friday 247Sports.com Oregon football reporter Matt Prehm broke the news that one of the current Oregon football staffers who worked directly with Houston-based recruiting service operator Willie Lyles had been fired.

Willie Lyles says Chip Kelly was directly involved in possible coverup

Lyles is currently at the center of a wide-ranging NCAA investigation into the Oregon football program’s recruiting methods.

From Prehm’s report:

Multiple sources close to the Oregon football program tell DuckTerritory.com that Assistant Director of Football Operations Josh Gibson is believed to be no longer working in the football office. It is unclear if Gibson has been fired, if he resigned or if he has been reassigned.

Multiple messages left on Gibson’s cell phone have not been returned.

When contacted by phone .. Oregon spokesman Dave Williford said. “I can’t confirm or deny that. Because that wasn’t something I was aware of.”

Oregon recently confirmed Kelly’s football program received spreadsheets containing names and phone numbers of high school football recruits from Lyles - on March 3.

Names and phone numbers Lyles told Yahoo last week were a result of Kelly and Oregon “scrambling” to account for their $25,000 payment to him 11+ months earlier.

Later, the Ken Goe of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN reported of Gibson’s job status:

“No,” UO spokesman Dave Williford told me Friday morning. “It’s not true. Nothing has changed.”

Williford said he went straight to UO athletic director Rob Mullens before commenting on Gibson’s status.

Willford said members of the football staff, including Gibson, currently are on vacation, but that Mullens said Gibson’s status in the football office remains unchanged.

“Rob was very emphatic,” Williford said.

With recently released documents showning interaction between Gibson and Lyles, along with on-the-record comments from Lyles to Yahoo Sports about Gibson’s role in the Ducks “scrambling” to obtain outdated recruiting documents from Lyles to account for UO’s $25,000 payment, it isn’t unreasonable to view a future Gibson ouster as UO scapegoating a low-level staffer for what may have been a blatant coverup attempt.

Until today, questions remained about just how involved Oregon head football coach Chip Kelly was in that possible coverup. But thanks to an appearance by Lyles on Houston radio Sunday, anyone wondering if Kelly was directly involved in obtained recruiting documents from Lyles 11 months and three weeks after the coach authorized a $25,000 payment to the Houston recruiting service operator, they aren’t now.


Appearing on Craig Shelton’s KCOH-AM radio show in Houston Sunday, Lyles confirmed that he dealt directly with Kelly during what appeared to be Oregon’s revisionist acquisition of recruiting materials from Lyles.

Shelton co-host Marcus Coleman to Lyles: “Was Chip Kelly directly in involved in the scramble for documents or was it strictly Josh Gibson?Read more…

Oregon ReDux? Les Miles Denied Knowing Lyles

During a radio interview with PORTLAND OREGONIAN columnist John Canzano of 750 the Game in Portland Tuesday, Houston-based recruiting services operator Willie Lyles said, “I know Les Miles and he knows me.

Les Miles Claims He Didn't Know Who Willie Lyles Was Until December 9

Lyles’ claim to Canzano jibes with a March 14 report by Jim Kleinpeter of the NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAUYUNE in which LSU senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent confirmed that the school had three months earlier paid Lyles for recruiting services.

In a story first reported by FOXsports.com senior writer Thayer Evans, Vincent said the money was paid to Lyles business in December, and was one of several recruitng services LSU used. LSU no longer employs Complete Scouting Services.

LSU paid $6,000 for the JUCO Per State Package which includes game films from California and Kansas Junior Colleges and costs $3,000 per state.

But three weeks after Vincent confirmed LSU football’s formal connection to Lyles, Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com reported on April 9, 2011, “LSU coach Les Miles told CBSSports.com Friday he didn’t know who Willie Lyles was until he saw him in December at the college football awards show in Orlando, Fla.

Stranger yet, thanks to the LSU football coach’s association with an ill-fated entertainment venture attempted by Lyles’ former employer, MSL Sports & Entertainment, Miles was presented as a longtime friend of Lyles.

On April 1, 2008, the following story was published on ESPN.com via the ASSOCIATED PRESS: Read more…

Willie Lyles: “I know Les Miles And He Knows Me”

The man at the center of an NCAA investigation into football recruiting impropriety by the University of Oregon, Houston-based recruiting service operator Willie Lyles, appeared on Portland radio on Tuesday to talk about his role with the Ducks while providing new information to host and PORTLAND OREGONIAN columnist John Canzano about his relationship to the LSU, Cal and Texas A&M football programs.

Willie Lyles on Sideline at LSU with Lache Seastrunk 2009 LSU-Florida game

(Audio of Canzano’s Lyles interview is below)

During an hour-long interview with Canzano on 750 The Game in Portland, Lyles talked at length about his ties to Oregon and head football coach Chip Kelly. But when Canzano broached his role with LSU, for which Lyles has confirmed he was most-recently paid $6,000 by the Tigers, Lyles at first refused to divulge any details of his now-documented connection to the Tigers. Read more…

March 3: Kelly Claimed Not To Know ‘Willie Lyles’

After his portrayal as a deceiving cheat by Willie Lyles in a story published by Yahoo Sports on July 1, it was hard to imagine how things could get worse for Oregon football coach Chip Kelly - at least that day.

Chip Kelly

But eight hours after Lyles may have hammered the final nail into Kelly’s coaching career with the Ducks, the leading sports media figure in the state of Oregon released another bombshell impugning Kelly’s character. Read more…

What Lies Behind Lyles Settling Oregon Score?

Today Will Lyles delivered a devastating, surgical strike on Chip Kelly and the Oregon football program, leveling allegations against the coach and the school’s football program that may lead to crippling NCAA penalties - and Kelly losing his job.

Will Lyles and Lache Seastrunk

In a meticulous Yahoo Sports report authored by Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel, Lyles cited varying forms of damning documentation in an obvious bid to ignite an already-smoldering Oregon football program kindled by a current NCAA investigation.

But while Lyles unloaded on Kelly and Oregon, he did nothing of the sort to his other documented clients: LSU and Cal. (Along with multiple high profile football schools he’s rumored to have provided services.)

Lyles provided the following justification to Yahoo for his doing the Ducks the way he did:

Lyles said the past four months have provided clarity on the situation. While he said he never thought he was acting improperly, he understands lines may have been crossed. Whether any NCAA rules were broken that could affect Oregon hardly matters to him. Lyles has lost his business and reputation.

“But those aren’t my rules,” Lyles said. “Those are the NCAA’s rules. Those are Oregon’s rules.”

Lyles said his chief regret is not studying the NCAA bylaws to avoid mistakes that created this scandal. That and trusting that Oregon was chiefly interested in his role as a talent scout, not a recruiting facilitator.

In absolving himself of all blame Lyles, in part, pleaded ignorance when it came to knowledge of NCAA rules.

Perhaps that’s true, but in Yahoo’s same report Lyles said that it was him, not Oregon, who used an intimate knowledge of Texas and Arkansas high school graduation rules - as they pertained to NCAA eligibilty - to enable LaMichael James to sign with Oregon out of high school.

And when Lache Seastrunk’s mother didn’t want her son to attend Oregon, it was Lyles who engineered Seastrunk’s grandmother signing his National Letter of Intent to Oregon - circumventing the desires of Evelyn Seastrunk while still satisfying NCAA rules.

So thanks to Lyles’ awareness of rules governing high school and NCAA student-athletes, Oregon was able to sign Seastrunk and James - which obviously contributed to Lyles getting paid $25,000 by the school.

But Lyles was at his disingenuous best in the latter grafs of today’s Yahoo story:

“I’m very disappointed in the way the situation was handled,” Lyles said. “If people would just be honest about the things that are going on and what they’re doing – or what their intentions might be – it would have made a huge difference. It’s tough to feel like you’ve been used and you’ve been thrown away.

“I felt like my throat was cut and I was left to bleed to death. I felt that there would be some sense of loyalty to me, because I felt I provided a great [recruiting] service.

“In retrospect, it might have never been about the service.”

Let’s recap what happened after Lyles went out of his way to help Kelly and Oregon land the then-highly recruited Seastrunk:

1) Seastrunk ended up at a school where he was unexpectedly redshirted and subsequently - repeatedly - told a reporter on the record at a BCS Championship Game press conference that he wished he had gone to Auburn instead of Oregon.

2) Seastrunk’s mother had no say in where her son attended school.

3) Lyles was paid $25,000.

Lyles was “used and thrown away” by Oregon?

That leads us to why Lyles, in my opinion, threw Oregon - and not his other client schools - under the bus:

Lyles spoke to Kelly on Feb. 28 for nine minutes, according to Lyles’ phone records. On March 3, Yahoo! Sports printed its original report about the school’s payments to scouting services. The two haven’t talked since, Lyles said.

Lyles has maintained contact with Gibson, including a 94-minute call on June 2, according to phone records. Lyles said he asked Gibson about receiving the $25,000 for the 2011-12 service that Kelly had promised. Gibson wouldn’t commit. He later called Clever, the compliance director, about the same issue. Lyles now doubts Oregon will pay.

“I spoke with Josh and I asked him about [the next payment], and he was saying that, ‘Well, you know, we can’t do anything right now,’” Lyles said. “Basically, they pushed me off. I would ask, like, you know, when am I going to get paid? I asked those questions and they just kind of just kept pushing me back, pushing me back, pushing me back.

“Until I called [Assistant Athletic Director of Compliance] Bill Clever on the phone and asked him. I said, ‘I sent the invoice to the football office.’ And he didn’t know what I was talking about.”

Without a client and his name now “mud,” Lyles considers Complete Scouting Services and his professional role in college football to be over.

“It’s a dead business,” he said.

From earlier in the Yahoo story:

Lyles said he spoke with NCAA enforcement staffers for six hours in early May as part of their ongoing investigation. He said he didn’t reveal the stories concerning Kelly, James and Seastrunk to investigators because the specific topics never came up in questioning.

A six-hour interview between the NCAA and Lyles and Kelly, James and Seastrunk “stories” never came up?

If that’s the case, it appears that even after Lyles was unable to procure - despite a 94-minute(!) phone call to Oregon football staffer Josh Gibson - the $25,000 he claims he was owed by the school, he still hadn’t ratted out Kelly and the Ducks until .. now.

But why napalm Oregon today, and not during what Lyles claimed to Yahoo was a six-hour NCAA interview in early May?

Might Oregon’s disastrous document dump earlier this month - which presented Lyles as providing Oregon fraudulent recruiting documents in exchange for $25,000 - have something to do with Lyles suddenly deciding to sing?

From today’s Yahoo report:

Lyles said the past four months have provided clarity on the situation. While he said he never thought he was acting improperly, he understands lines may have been crossed. Whether any NCAA rules were broken that could affect Oregon hardly matters to him. Lyles has lost his business and reputation.

Translation: Had Oregon paid Lyles June 2, 2011, the additional $25,000 he claims Kelly promised him, Lyles wouldn’t have nuked the Oregon program - and possibly Kelly’s coaching career with the Ducks.

So four months after the NCAA launched an investigation of the Oregon football program solely because of Yahoo report that outed Lyles’ dubious relationship with Oregon, and just 18 days before Oregon released the laughable Lyles recruiting documents, Lyles was still trying to score the $25K from Oregon he claims Kelly promised him!

But after the Ducks, at least in Lyles’ brazen, entitled mind, threw him under the bus in more ways than one, it was time for Lyles to settle his personal score with Oregon.

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Lyles on UT: ‘I didn’t want to steer kids their way’

During a Houston radio appearance Sunday, Will Lyles responded to accusations that he steered former Texas high school football recruit Lache Seastrunk to Oregon in exchange for a $25,000 payment from the school.


In an interview with KCOH-AM’s Craig Shelton (audio above), Lyles said that the University of Texas was the driving force behind a “well-staged” media campaign designed to discredit him. A campaign Lyles told Shelton was originated, “when I didn’t want to steer kids their [Texas] way.”

Of the University of Texas football program Lyles said, “they thought they lost out on kids [because of Lyles]” and that “Lache Seastrunk [of Temple, Texas] is the kid that was in question about Oregon.”

Here’s an excerpt of the exchange between Lyles and Shelton on KCOH-AM (1430) on June 19, 2011:

Lyles: I felt that it [media campaign to discredit Lyles] was brought about in a very meticulous manner and it was very well staged and set up.

Shelton: Staged and set up by whom?

Lyles: By the University of Texas.

Shelton: Why?

Lyles: Because they did not want to see me in recruiting. First off, they thought they lost out on kids ..

Shelton: [Interrupts Lyles] Give me a name, give me a kid ..

Lyles: Lache Seastrunk is the kid that was in question about Oregon. They’re [University of Texas] trying to say basically that the kid signed there because I got paid $25,000 [by Oregon, so] I persuaded the kid to sign there.

Shelton: So this is the problem about the $25,000?

Lyles: Right. That’s the problem about the $25,000. They [Texas] are trying to say that basically I influenced that kid to go to that university.

Shelton: Do you think there are any scouting services that have ever been paid to influence a kid to go to Texas?

Lyles: I guarantee there’s been high school coaches who have. I don’t know about scouting services. I know they deal with a few scouting services themselves. They actually used to be a client of mine when I was with MSLSports.net in 2007.

And when I didn’t want to steer kids their way [to Texas] that’s when the relationship became strained. That’s when they [Texas] began the vendetta against me personally.

Monday Oregon released emails between Lyles and the Oregon football staff concerning recruiting. In one such email sent to Oregon football staffer Jim Fisher on Jan. 24, 2011, Lyles forwarded a recruiting profile of Texas high school football prospect Matt Davis to the Oregon assistant director of football operations:

Will Lyles Matt Davis

Two months ago Davis verbally committed to Texas A&M.

Oregon also recently released a 143-page document attributed to Lyles titled, “Complete Scouting Services 2010 National High School Evaluation Booklet.”

Though the front page of the “Complete Scouting Services” document from Lyles indicated the booklet was for 2010, each of the 140 profiles of individual high school football prospects in the “evaluation booklet” was titled, “2011″.

George Schroeder of the EUGENE REGISTER-GUARD reported of those 140 high school prospect profiles provided by Lyles’ Complete Scouting Services to Oregon:

At least 115 were from the class that graduated from high school in 2009. Three were from 2010 and one was from 2008. Class year was not available for several players.

It was also verified by Schroeder and other media members that the evaluation booklet sent to the Oregon football program by Lyles - in addition to a $25,000 purchase order/invoice dated Feb. 22, 2010 - contained no prospects identifiable as members of the 2011 recruiting class.

Of Lyles’ involvement with now-defunct MSLSports.net, which he confirmed in the Sunday interview with KCOH-AM’s Shelton, one of the player recruiting profiles submitted to Oregon by Lyles included the text: “MSL Sports.net Ranking“:

Will Lyles MSLSports.net

The remaining 139 profiles from Lyles to Oregon did not contain the “MSL Sports.net Ranking” text, a discrepancy which was first reported by SI.com’s Andy Staples.

Before Lyles started his Complete Scouting Services business, he previously worked for a company called Elite Scouting Services.

Here is an excerpt from the current “About” website page for Elite Scouting Services:

Our comprehensive scouting program is tailored precisely for your football programs needs. Our service not only provides you with in-depth information on the student athletes, but also creates relationships with players, their families, and coaches as well. Our video component and website allow you to access player information and highlight film from any computer. ESS will become an extension of your own coaching staff, a group of scouts that will recruit year round saving you precious time and money. Our goal is to dissect your immediate and long term recruiting needs and build a personalized service around your program.

Here is an excerpt from the current “About Us” page from the Complete Scouting Services 143-page prospect report sent to Oregon:

Our comprehensive scouting program is tailored precisely for your football programs needs. Our service not only provides you with in-depth information on the student athletes, but also creates relationships with players, their families, and coaches as well. Our video component and website allow you to access player information and highlight film from any computer. CSS will become an extension of your own coaching staff, a group of scouts that will recruit year round saving you precious time and money. Our goal is to dissect your immediate and long term recruiting needs and build a personalized service around your program.

Here’s an image comparing the Complete Scouting Services “About Us” document sent by Lyles to Oregon to the website page of Lyles former employer Elite Scouting Services labeled “About”:

 

On March 4, 2011, NCAA associate director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism activities Angie Cretors sent an email to Oregon Executive Assistant Director, Compliance Bill Clever. An image of that email and a text excerpt from it is below:

NCAA email to Oregon asking for details of what Will Lyles provided the school

Per our discussion this morning, we wanted to follow-up with an on records and documents that we are currently requested. Below is a list of those records that we are requesting related to the University of Oregon football program:

1) All official/unofficial visit records from past two years
2) Recruiting logs for past 2 years
3) All documentation (contracts, invoices, billing statements, correspondence, services provided)
pertaining to institution’s use of scouting services for the past two years.
4) Detailed accounting of ínstitution’s financial records related to Will Lyles, Baron Flenory, Complete Scouting, New Level Athletics, and Speed Dynamics and all other scouting services.

“Speed Dynamics” was the name of a Houston-based, speed-training operation for athletes originated by Lyles in the mid-’90s before he joined MSLSports.net, Elite Scouting Services and started Complete Scouting Services.

The Oregon football program and athletic department has yet to comment publicly on any of the documents released by the school Monday.

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Audio: Cal Paid NCAA-Targeted Lyles Five Thou

On March 3, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports broke the news that NCAA officials were investigating a $25,000 payment made in 2010 by the University of Oregon to a Houston man, Will Lyles, for providing recruiting services for the school’s football program.

Willie Lyles and Jeff Tedford

After Robinson’s report, Ken Goe of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN reported, “Lyles has a mentoring relationship with Oregon running back Lache Seastrunk.” (From 2009-2010, Seastrunk was a heavily recruited high school football prospect from Texas.)

11 days after Robinson’s initial report, Thayer Evans of FOXSports.com reported that LSU had paid Lyles $6,000 in 2010 for providing recruiting services for the school’s football program.


During an interview on FOXSportsRadio.com’s Real Talk With Jason Whitlock podcast (full interview) last week, Lyles said he was also paid $5,000 by Cal for his recruiting services.

After noting that Lyles had told him he made $36,000 in 2010, Whitlock asked Lyles:

“You got a check for $25,000 from Oregon, where was the other $11,000?”

Lyles:

“The other $11,000 was $6,000 from LSU and the other $5,000 was from Cal-Berkeley.”

On Feb. 26, 2009, Greg Biggins of ESPN.com reported that then-Texas high school football prospect Lache Seastrunk took a recruiting visit to Cal the last week of February.

In the same piece about Cal’s “Junior Day” recruiting event, Biggins noted of then-Louisiana High School recruit Trovon Reed:

Trovon Reed (Thibodaux, La.) was expected to be on hand but won’t be able to make it. Reed is one of the elite receivers in the South and is holding offers from schools like Texas, Georgia, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

“I couldn’t get out there but I’m going to try and make it for their next Junior Day,” Reed said. “I like Cal and I liked how they used Desean Jackson. They want to use me in a similar way so I’m definitely interested in checking them out.

On April 1 I reported of Reed’s close association with Lyles and Seastrunk. Excerpt from that report:

On Feb. 16 I broke the news that NCAA officials had recently visited Thibodaux, Louisiana, to investigate the recruitment of a current Auburn football player, Trovon Reed, and a recent football signee to the school, Greg Robinson.

Willie Lyles, Lache Seastrunk, Sean Nelson

At the heart of that NCAA investigation was Thibodaux resident Sean Nelson. Nelson, who is an associate of Reed and Robinson, has been characterized as a street agent who exerted possible undue influence on the two recruits in their decision to choose Auburn. Nelson is also a known associate of the NCAA’s current public enemy #1, Will Lyles. Lyles’ one-man recruiting service was recently paid $25,000 by the University of Oregon for recruiting videos that the school has yet to produce to the public.

Oregon has, to this day, not produced any materials to the public that it received from Lyles for his recruiting services.

Speaking of Cal, on March 13, Thayer Evans reported on the relationship between Lyles and Houston-area high school football prospect Trevon Randle:

Randle said Lyles talked to him a lot about California and Miami. He said Lyles didn’t have to talk to him much about Oregon, because “I told him about Oregon.” But Randle said Lyles knew Ducks coach Chip Kelly well.

Just over a month after meeting Lyles, Randle committed to LSU at a Tigers junior day. Randle said he consulted with his parents before choosing LSU, but said his father is “pretty tight” with Lyles.

Having committed to LSU, Randle said he later spent time with Lyles while attending LSU summer camps. He said Lyles was particularly close with (LSU Assistant Coach Brick) Haley, who recruited him for the Tigers.

It was Haley who cut the $6,000 check to Lyles on behalf of LSU.

Despite that transaction, and LSU commit Randle saying Haley was “particularly close” with Lyles, Haley denied even knowing Lyles in the same FOXSports.com story:

A week later, (Trevon Randle’s Clear Springs (TX) High School Football Coach Clint) Hartman crossed paths with Lyles again. This time he was with LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley, who had come to see Randle. When Lyles tried to walk onto the field, Hartman told him to return to the parking lot.

Hartman later called Haley and told him that Lyles was never to return to Clear Springs High.

“I didn’t know the guy, Coach,” Hartman recalled Haley saying of Lyles. “He showed up and said he was helping the last guy here for LSU.”

Hartman knew that wasn’t true. After all, LSU had never previously recruited at Clear Springs High.

Three weeks ago Dan Rubenstein and Ty Hildenbrandt of SolidVerbal.com interviewed Cal football coach Jeff Tedford. During the visit, Rubenstein asked Tedford:

“I want to call them characters in the nicest possible way that we’ve been seeing this offseason on the fringes of recruiting.  How do you and your staff address those types of situations?”

Tedford:

“We haven’t run across that. We typically deal with the player, the coaches and their families so we really don’t get involved in any of the other stuff.

“Obviously everyone uses recruiting services but that’s just to gather data and not depend on what they have to say or what their opinions are or anything like that. It’s really solely collection the information that you need on where the prospects are so you can have a pretty good idea on where to go recruit.

“But as far as people being involved, we haven’t really run into that. We’re really just focused on what important to the kid and go through the school and his coaches.

” … You do have to keep your head on a swivel and you have to know what’s going on out there because you don’t want to bury your head in the sand but on the other hand you really need to keep everything close to us and try to communicate as much as you can just with the recruits, the student-athletes and their families to make sure the lines of communication are open and everyone is on the same page.”

The year before Cal and Tedford paid $5,000 to Lyles for his recruiting services - and three weeks before Lyles associate Lache Seastrunk made a recruiting visit to the Cal-Berkeley campus - Tedford said the following at Cal’s 2009 signing day press conference:

It’s a little unsettling because sometimes they go underground and you can’t get hold of them. You don’t know what’s happening, so you just continue to try. With not being able to text now, now you just have to call and you get an answering machine. So you’re really at their mercy. It’s a helpless feeling when you don’t know the information. You can’t counterpoint something you don’t know about, so that’s some of it. But it’s so competitive. No one’s going to give up. Everybody is going to always continue to battle right down to the end. Obviously, the people we are recruiting against are very good programs and very competitive that way.”

Is it unreasonable to think that at least part of the reason Tedford’s Cal paid Lyles $5,000 was to ensure a unique level of access to Seastrunk and other Texas recruits associated with Lyles?

That isn’t to say that Tedford was directly involved in the recruitment of Seastrunk. That duty fell to Cal football recruiting coordinator Kenwick Thompson, who shares a hometown with Lyles: Houston.

There’s nothing wrong with Lyles tipping off schools to talent in his area. Nor is there his taking money for such services, regardless the amount. (Because the NCAA does not stipulate a limit.)

Though Lyles’ “Compete Scouting Services” does not come close to fulfilling the NCAA’s official definition of what constitutes a legitimate recruiting service, the NCAA rules regarding such activity are so vague that until the NCAA gets serious about governing them, it’s hard to hold even Lyles to any sort of NCAA-borne standard.

But Lyles did indisputably violate the NCAA booster rule as it pertained to Oregon’s recruitment of Seastrunk thanks to on-record comments from Oregon assistant coach Gary Campbell. What, if any, penalties Oregon will receive from the NCAA for that misstep remains to be seen.

During the same interview last week in which he confirmed receiving a $5,000 payment from Cal and a $6,000 payment from LSU,  Lyles was asked by FOXSports.com columnist Whitlock:

“Do you ever steer kids to schools?” Read more…

Ducks Dare NCAA With Seastrunk, Opposite Day

Spring Practice got underway this week in Eugene.

Willie Lyles, Lache Seastrunk, Oregon Invoice To Lyles for $25,000

(What, Chip Can’t Afford To Cash Out?)

The good news for Oregon is that - as Ken Goe of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN reported Tuesday - after a disappointing freshman redshirt, Lache Seastrunk has been impressive this week during drills.

Or is that bad news? (That is, that Seastrunk is even on the field.)

According to Oregon Coach Chip Kelly it’s definitely the former.

On March 3, the same day Oregon confirmed it had paid $25,000 to the one-person “recruiting service” run by Seastrunk “mentor” Willie Lyles, Kelly told John Canzano of the Oregonian: We’ve done nothing wrong.”

So why then did Kelly and Oregon fork over $25,000 to Lyles, who went from not knowing Seastrunk before he became a college football prospect to reportedly living with Seastrunk?

The above invoice for the transaction confirmed Oregon was to receive “Game Film and Highlight Film” from 22 states - including Oregon.

But when Kelly was asked by Canzano what Oregon got for its 25 large, Kelly said, “names and phone numbers.”

The payment to Lyles, subsequent discrepancy over services rendered and Lyles’ “Complete Scouting Service” falling well short of NCAA “recruiting service” guidelines soon drew a visit from NCAA investigators to Eugene.

That visit though may now be an extended NCAA stay after a March 13 FOXSports.com piece by Thayer Evans detailing longtime Oregon assistant coach Gary Campbell’s relationship with Lyles in Texas.

In an article titled “Is Lyles most powerful street agent?“, Evans reported that Lyles accompanied Ducks assistant Campbell to at least two Texas High Schools - Clear Springs High School and Dekaney High School - while Campbell was recruiting football players for the Ducks in 2010. Evans:

Campbell said he did visit high schools with Lyles, but doesn’t recall how often.

Campbell on Lyles:

“I just don’t understand what the big deal about this scouting service and paying Will is all about.

“I don’t think Will did anything wrong. I mean, I know he didn’t do anything wrong with us because he knew that we weren’t going to do anything outside of the rules.”

Apparently Campbell is unaware of the NCAA’s criteria for a booster, or “representative of the institution’s athletics interests” (NCAA bylaw 13.02.14):

an individual, independent agency, corporate entity (e.g., apparel or equipment manufacturer) or other organization who is known (or who should have been known) by a member of the institution’s executive or athletics administration to:

(c) Be assisting or to have been requested (by the athletics department staff) to assist in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes;

Again, keep in mind that before Seastrunk was known as a high school football prospect, Lyles had no prior relationship with him or his family.

If Campbell isn’t aware of the rules governing recruiting, it wouldn’t be the first time. The Oregonian reported last January:

The lone blemish on Campbell’s reputation was his 2003 interaction with junior-college running back J.J. Arrington, who had committed to California but was wavering back toward Oregon. In Campbell’s presence, Arrington signed with the Ducks after the midnight deadline, forging his father’s signature. The NCAA gave Oregon two years’ probation.

“It was a mistake,” Campbell said.

But Oregon stood by him, as he had the Ducks for so long. He so appreciates his coworkers’ longevity that if the Ducks’ coaching staff ever fractures or moves to another program, Campbell said, he might just retire.

The verification of the forgery caused Arrington to subsequently sign with Cal and landed Oregon in hot water with the NCAA.

Speaking of (in this case, alleged) undue influence over recruits, Oregon starting quarterback Darron Thomas said of Lyles in another FOXSports.com piece:

“He brings a lot of Texas to this team — a guy that Coach Chip Kelly and them out there now recruiting in Texas a lot. Like I said, he’s a big recruiting guy just leading guys.”

Oregon star LaMichael James on Lyles in the same story:

He’s very influential to me and I know to Lache and just different players.”

For all we know Lyles is a good egg who had no design on personal gain when he struck up a relationship with Seastrunk and his mother. The fact that those relationships happened only after Seastrunk became a major college football prospect, and that Lyles has subsequently moved out of the Seastrunk home and cut off his relationship with Seastrunk’s mother after her son signed with Oregon may be complete coincidence.

Like the $25,000 from Oregon to Lyles right after Seastrunk signed with the school was only for “Game Film and Highlight Film.” (Or was it “names and phone numbers“?)

But as Lyles visited multiple Texas high schools with Campbell, by NCAA rules he’s defined as a booster who is forbidden any contact with Oregon recruits.

NCAA bylaw 13.1.2 (Page 96) on what constitutes a “Permissible Recruiter”:

All in-person correspondence on and off campus recruiting contacts with prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s relatives or legal guardians shall be made only by authorized institutional staff members. Such contact, as well as correspondence and telephone calls, by representatives of an institution’s athletics interests is prohibited.

There are some exceptions to that rule, but Lyles doesn’t fulfill any of them.

Lyles and Oregon have already violated the booster-contact rule thanks to Lyles’ relationship with both Seastrunk and assistant coach Campbell. Campbell confirmed the violation himself to FOXSports.com with his comments to Thayer Evans.

That violation would not, unto itself, render Seastrunk ineligible. But we’re now to the point with Oregon where the circumstantial evidence is impossible to ignore: Read more…