I'm going to start out with a little bit of a rant, the links will be after the jump, I promise.
I know the NCAA isn't a judicial branch. I understand they don't need to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt (hell, sometimes they don't even need reason). But most of the time they're logical. They set out the rules that all institutions that willingly want to join must abide by. Now those rules, just like any set of bylaws are going to have areas that are left for interpretation. At the end of the day, you have to justify why you took a course of action, how you felt you applied the rules, both by the letter and the spirit of the law, and if you need to take corrective action in the future, how you're going to follow through.
Ask any accountant that's dealt with the IRS. Talk to a financial advisor who deals with FINRA or the SEC. Talk to an insurance agent or real estate agent. Ask OSHA compliance officers, or anyone that deals with audits and a regulatory body. What is important is going to always come down to two things: 1) what is the written rule you were to abide by, and 2) what was your intention in your actions?
Here are the rules that are important regarding Will Lyles:
Interpretation of NCAA Bylaws 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206.1, 13.14.3 on whether Will Lyles qualifies as a Recruiting Service:
"The academic and membership affairs staff confirmed that a recruiting or scouting service includes any individual, organization, entity or segment of an entity that is primarily involved in providing information about prospective student-athletes. This definition includes, but is not limited to any service that provides information only to paid subscribers, any service that is only available to a select group of individuals (e.g., coaches), regardless of whether there is a charge associated with the service, and any service that provides information to the public free of charge; however, this definition does not include any individual, organization or entity or segment of an entity that provides information about prospective student-athletes incidental to its primary purpose and is generally available to the public (e.g. news media)."
Further clarification on bylaw 13.14.3 on what a recruiting service must provide:
An institution may subscribe to a recruiting or scouting service involving prospective studentathletes, provided the institution does not purchase more than one annual subscription to a
particular service and the service:
(a) Is made available to all institutions desiring to subscribe and at the same fee rate for all
(b) Publicly identifies all applicable rates;
(c) Disseminates information (e.g., reports, profiles) about prospective student-athletes at least
four times per calendar year;
(d) Publicly identifies the geographical scope of the service (e.g., local, regional, national) and
reflects broad-based coverage of the geographical area in the information it disseminates;
(e) Provides analysis in the information it disseminates beyond demographic information or
rankings of prospective student-athletes;
(f) Provides access to samples or previews of the information it disseminates prior to purchase
of a subscription; and
(g) Provides video that is restricted to regularly scheduled (regular season) high school,
preparatory school or two-year college contests and for which the institution made no prior
arrangements for recording
Finally on whether Will Lyles qualifies as a "booster" (or Representative of Athletics Interest) under bylaw 13.02.13
A "representative of the institution’s athletics interests" is 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: (Revised: 2/16/00)
(a) Have participated in or to be a member of an agency or organization promoting the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program;
(b) Have made financial contributions to the athletics department or to an athletics booster organization of that institution;
(c) Be assisting or to have been requested (by the athletics department staff) to assist in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes;
(d) Be assisting or to have assisted in providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes or their families; or
(e) Have been involved otherwise in promoting the institution’s athletics program.
Now I point this out only because you're going to hear and read a lot of misinformed opinions. You'll read about Kelly lying to the NCAA (when in actuality no one knows what Kelly or Oregon has said to the NCAA). You'll hear about how Lyles was steering players to Oregon, even though he said himself (now after being jilted by the school) that he insists Oregon did not make a direct request or payment to steer recruits. You'll hear about how a recruiting service is required to provide written documentation on prospective student-athletes or that Lyles isn't considered a recruiting service by the NCAA. And so on and so forth.
These things just aren't true.
What is important is did Oregon abide by the letter of the law and what was their intention in their dealing with Lyles? These are the things that Oregon will be judged on by the NCAA. You can decide by reading the rules whether you think Oregon followed the bylaws. Intention is going to be more difficult to determine as bias from fear or greed will cloud that judgment, but do not mistake the two. Letter of the law and intention are two separate variables. One is not more important than the other, but they both deal with how the NCAA will review this investigation. Even if Oregon followed every rule but their intentions were wrong, they may still face punishment. Just like if they had the right intentions but didn't follow the rules, the NCAA will still hand down penalties, and rightfully so.
Well, onto the Lyles Link
- Here is the Yahoo report detailing Lyles' side of the story. I find it hard for me not to believe him. I know he's now got a bone to pick considering he didn't get his contract renewed, but if he really wanted to throw Oregon under the bus (by the way, that is now the most overused saying in sports media and has overtaken "eye-test" and "football/basketball IQ") he could have easily made some very serious accusations about payments, conversations, or intentions and he didn't.
- SportsbyTMZ actually has a decent take on why Lyles decided to talk now. Even though he follows it up with an absolutely absurd tweet later. Congrats Brooks, you just won yourself a part in my next play.
- Oregon released a statement. Blah blah blah, stop calling us.
- SI and Stewart Mandel question if Oregon should consider still saying that Kelly is "doing things the right way." It's an interesting question regarding Kelly's reputation. I'm not one to care too much about reputations considering Pete Carroll talked about glowingly by USC fans, Bama thinks the sun shines out of Midget Saban's back side and the Stoops brothers still have jobs to this day, but I think some fans do care.
- The SportsBrewery has an either you're with us or against us post. For better or worst, I'm with Oregon. No one coach, player or sanction is going to take away my love of the Ducks. Once you've lived in poverty, you're not afraid of losing everything.
- Lyles, Lyles, and more Lyles
- Lastly, a great interview with Charles Robinson, the author of the Yahoo article, by 1080 the Fan in Portland. Pay attention to when he talks about the nebulous proving of influence and payments and which side feels they got cheated in this situation. While I think Issac and Suke are trying to bait him into saying something he doesn't think, he's pretty clear that this was a rather gray area that Oregon stepped into and could land them in trouble, but not anytime in the near future. So for those that think that Kelly is done at Oregon, or that this is spelling the impending doom for Oregon, go ahead and start holding your breath.
P.S. Welcome to the new Pac 12 Website.