There have been rumors floating for quite a while now that Oregon has been involved with 'street agents,' those involved in college football that run various camps and are paid for their services. This is very much like the AAU system for college football, and has been known about but not much talked about for a while now.
At least until tonight, when Yahoo Sports released a story reporting that Oregon had paid $28,000 to two men with ties to Oregon recruits
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.
As I said, this shouldn't be a surprise for many of us. This topic has been around for some time, and reached a bit of national prominence when Brian Butler was the face of the Bryce Brown recruitment, and was brought up again on a couple blogs.
So Yahoo has confirmed what many have suspected, that Oregon, presumably along with many other schools, has made payment for recruiting services, and done it as part of the athletic department budget. Oregon has already admitted to these payments, released the following statement:
The athletics department paid for services rendered by a pair of scouting services that were processed through the athletics department business office to Complete Scouting Services and New Level Athletics. This is no different than services purchased by a number of colleges and universities throughout the country.
This is something we remain confident that is within the acceptable guidelines allowed by the NCAA and occurred with the knowledge of the department's compliance office.
However, the payments and ties to players is bound to raise some eyebrows. Unfortunately, this is not a clear area of NCAA law. Payments cannot be paid to anyone that recruits for Oregon, and many will automatically assume that Myles and Flenory steered players toward Oregon. I don't see much evidence that this is the case, but this is an issue that many feel uneasy about, and it will be tough to establish either guilt or innocence in an issue such as this.
At this point, I'm not worried. This type of thing is part of being near the top of the college football rules, and there is, right now, no evidence that Oregon broke any NCAA rules. The NCAA will look into this issue, as they should, but early reports show they are looking into the street agent system in general, and not Oregon itself, though it's a good bet the Ducks will be looked at closely.