The day of reckoning came to Eugene, Ore., and no one really noticed. What some thought could be severe NCAA sanctions placed on the Oregon football program were nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
The Ducks got three years probation, the loss of one scholarship each of the next three seasons, Chip Kelly received an 18-month show-cause penalty and recruiting restrictions were placed on the coaching staff. But the biggest hammer — a bowl ban — was nonexistent. Despite Kelly's departure to the Philadelphia Eagles, Oregon remains a national title contender. With today's ruling, the Ducks know a championship is still a possibility.
The penalties stem from the years-long Willie Lyles controversy. Lyles, a recruiting service provider, was paid large sums of money ($25,000) by Oregon and, coincidentally, recruits he was involved with ended up playing for the Ducks. The case has dragged on for 27 months. During that time, though, it was learned a majority of the Texas-based players Lyles attempted to steer Oregon's directions were low-level recruits, though he did have connections to LaMichael James and Lachae Seastrunk, who has since transferred to Baylor. The recruiting service material Lyles provided was also of little use.
A rundown of Oregon's penalties:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. Three years of probation, ending on June 25, 2016.
3. The number of initial athletically related financial aid awards in football that are countable under Bylaw 15.02.3 shall be reduced by one from the maximum allowed (25) during both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. This limits the institution to 24 initial grants those two years under current rules. (Institution imposed)
4. The number of total athletically related financial aid awards in football shall be reduced by one from the maximum allowed (85) during the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years. This limits the institution to 84 total scholarships those three years under current rules. (Institution imposed)
5. Official paid [recruiting] visits in the sport of football shall be limited to 37 for each of the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-6 academic years. The institution will not be allowed to retain unused visits for the following year.
6. The permissible number of football [recruiting] evaluation days shall be limited to 36 (of 42) in the fall of 2013, 2014 and 2015. The permissible number of football evaluation days shall be limited to 144 (of 168) in the spring of 2014, 2015 and 2016.
7. A ban on the subscription to recruiting services during the period of probation.
8. The recruiting service provider [Willie Lyles] will be disassociated by the institution's athletics program upon release of this report. (Institution imposed
9. The committee concluded that the former head coach [Kelly] failed in his duty to monitor his program as it related to the recruiting service provider's impermissible contact with prospective student-athletes, the football program's use of the recruiting service provider's business which did not comply with NCAA legislation, and the impermissible telephone calls placed by the former assistant director of operations. The former head coach agreed with these determinations. Therefore, pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 19.5, the committee imposes an 18-month show-cause order upon the former head coach. During this period, which begins on June 26, 2013, and runs through December 25, 2014, if any member institution seeks to hire the former head coach in an athletically related capacity, it and the former head coach shall appear before the Committee on Infractions to consider which, if any, of the show-cause procedures of Bylaw 22.214.171.124 (l) should be imposed upon him.