The Oregon Recruiting Payments Look Shady, But Probably Were Not NCAA Violations.

The phrase “Charles Robinson on line one” makes a college football coach’s blood run cold. Yahoo’s hammer came down, this time on the University of Oregon. He’s reporting the Ducks made two NCAA-approved payments totalling more than $28,000 to “scouting services” conducted by Will Lyles and Brian Flenory. Both men are rumored to be Texas-based street agents.

Here are the charges.

Will Lyles: Oregon paid $25,000 to Lyles through “Complete Scouting Services.” According to ESPN, Oregon had paid the company $16,500 the previous two seasons. Typical charges for services are around $5,000. Lyles was a “mentor” for Lache Seastrunk, a 2010 5-star running back, who ended up at Oregon. He also had a relationship with LaMichael James. He has rumored links with other high-profile recruits who ended up at schools such as LSU, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Alabama, Baylor and USC.

Brian Flenory: Oregon paid $3,745 to Brian Flenory’s “New Level Athletics.” Flenory played for Chip Kelly at the University of New Hampshire. His company compiled one scouting report for Oregon. He’s more famous for running Badger Sports Elite 7 on 7 camps, essentially AAU style football camps. Four players who attended his camps, including DeAnthony Thomas, ended up at Oregon. He was a “personal trainer” for another Oregon signee, Anthony Wallace.

These revelations aren’t damning for Oregon. Scouting service payments are legal. They were listed on Oregon’s books. Oregon denies any wrongdoing. There’s the appearance of impropriety, but the NCAA would have to prove that Lyles and Flenory were recruiting to Oregon. It’s shady but it’s more likely Oregon exploited a loophole than broke a rule.

The loophole is the salient concern. The NCAA doesn’t want football to become like basketball where “street agents” use camps to ingratiate themselves with recruits, weasel their way in as “informal advisors” and accept payment for steering the recruit to certain schools. They certainly don’t want schools using the “scouting service” payments as a sanctioned way for money to exchange hands.

Given the billions of dollars in television money at stake, the NCAA’s investigation should be figuring out what is going on and how to prevent future malfeasance rather than retroactively nailing schools, unless the media forces their hand.

[Photo via Getty]

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