Update: Sources indicate to Sports Illustrated that Oregon met with the Committee on Infractions last Friday, and Chip Kelly was in attendance.
Back in January, we ran an extensive Q+A with the Bylaw Blog's John Infante regarding the ongoing saga involving the NCAA and Oregon football.
Then last week, a heaping pile of documents came crashing down on Monday night, renewing discussion about the case and bringing a new set of questions.
Therefore, thanks to Infante, we have a new set of answers.
*This interview has been edited for clarity*
Will Rubin: What, in part because they're from way back in September, can we learn from the new set of Oregon-NCAA documents?
John Infante: Essentially, what you kind of have in those documents will be most of what would have been in a Notice of Allegations and Oregon's response. So, I would expect that you're going to see pretty much the same violations in the Notice of Allegations that Oregon either will or already has received. I suspect Oregon is going to take the same tact, they're basically going to admit to all of that and dispute that the one was major, and the self-imposed penalties, they really can't change too much about that right now, so they'll need to probably self-impose some penalties before they go in front of the committee.
Really, you're sort of seeing what the case is like, and now the question is how that changes based on Oregon having to go in front of a hearing, and what the committee on infractions is going to think about this, especially considering that they decided not to just accept this agreement.
WR: What are your thoughts on Oregon's proposed penalties from the summary disposition process? They seemed pretty low to me.
JI: I think they did seem low given the case, but once you read through Oregon and the enforcement staff's view of the case, it sort of started to make sense that this is basically a bunch of little stuff. It looked like the type of investigation where there's an allegation made about something really serious and once you kick open the door, especially once you have Will Lyles being declared a booster, now you have this all little behavior that becomes impermissible.
So instead of just being about 'why'd they pay him $25,00,' you have now contact with recruits by him, some gifts he gave them, and then you go into phone records and you find all these impermissible phone calls, and that adds up to the charges of failure to monitor for Kelly and the school. Given their presentation of the case, the penalties are surprising, they're only surprising in the context of what we thought would've been the worst case scenario given how this case might have been viewed, but the enforcement staff is clearly not viewing it that way.
WR: A lot of other fans, particularly USC and Washington ones, are having a hard time figuring out why and how the NCAA can definitively say there weren't any lack of institutional control or unethical conduct violations in this case. How can they be so sure?
JI: "I think they key, again, going back to the $25,00 payment, I think the key thing that hadn't been out there, the key fact that kind of changed all that is that they were receiving oral reports from Lyles. So they were getting some sort of scouting or recruiting information. It just wasn't in this quarterly, written format that the bylaw requires now. Given that you have...for instance in the USC case, Todd McNair has no reason to be talking to Lloyd Lake or Michael Michaels, these two guys who are hooked up with Reggie Bush, potentially.
But you purchase the scouting service from this, and you're saying that he and the school say 'I was giving them oral reports,' well then you can't simply go to the phone logs and say 'look at all this contact, clearly something unethical was going on,' because they were given a reason for it. Whether it's what Will Lyles said - and certainly we look at some of Lyles' comments that, it was kind of his sense that he was being pulled along, and at some point you kind of have to make credibility determinations and you have to say 'do we believe this guy or not?'
For whatever reason, they believed Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels, they believed Nevin Shapiro, but I think that when he gave their opinion of why they were talking to him, and assuming he told the NCAA the same thing he told reporters, that 'well they were talking to me to get my kids,' the NCAA for whatever reason found something that made that less persuasive."
WR: Should Oregon want Chip Kelly with them in front of the Committee on Infractions?
JI: "I don't think so. Coaches are just notoriously bad performers in front of the Committee on Infractions. For his career, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to go in there to avoid - even if he got an unethical conduct, it'd be something he could explain away after a few years in the NFL, assuming he wants to come back to college for whatever reason.
So if I'm Oregon, I say I'd rather have - [The COI] has a very favorable view of Chip Kelly, and it's hard to imagine that Chip Kelly's going to go there and testify in front of the Committee on Infractions and end up with a more favorable view than they already have. So if I'm Oregon, I want him to stay away, and just rely on what's already out there."
WR: Is this going to get wrapped up by the start of the 2013 football season?
JI: "I would think so. I mean, it'll be close. The Committee on Infractions is pushing for June to be a Miami hearing, and I think we should expect that will take up the entire weekend that the Committee on Infractions is going to meet in June. So you either look at one in April or May, which may mean it's already happened.
I think with Oregon, there's a sense that's kind of been if they were going we'd hear about it, or if they had received a Notice of Allegations we'd hear about it, but only one guy it seems - Charles Robinson - has any sources on this, and I think it's fairly possible they could have gone to the hearing already and we haven't heard about it, given how it's not like they're releasing documents or would release a Notice of Allegations immediately after they received it, given their history of releasing things in this case.
So if that happened, then yeah, we'd probably see a final determination from the Committee on Infractions, a public report before the football season starts. But if not, you'd probably be looking at an August hearing if they haven't delivered the Notice of Allegations already and in that case, you're probably not going to get a determination on penalties until September or October."