Report: Lyles says Kelly OK’d payment
The owner of a Texas-based scouting service told Yahoo! Sports that Oregon coach Chip Kelly personally approved a $25,000 payment to him that’s the focus of an NCAA investigation.
The February 2010 payment to Will Lyles of Houston has been questioned because of his relationship with running backs Lache Seastrunk and LaMichael James. Lyles was paid soon after Seastrunk signed a letter of intent.
Oregon announced in March that it had been contacted by the NCAA to provide documentation about its use of recruiting services.
Spokesman Dave Williford told The Associated Press on Friday that the school maintains it has done nothing wrong.
Yahoo! Sports reported that Lyles’ role as mentor to prospects and paid contractor to Oregon is believed to be central to the NCAA’s investigation.
Lyles said Kelly asked him to send retroactive profiles of prospects to justify the $25,000 payment to Complete Scouting Services. Lyles said Kelly was ”scrambling” when he made the request because the transaction was about to be revealed in a March 3 Yahoo! Sports report.
Though Oregon didn’t directly ask him or pay him to guide recruits to Oregon, Lyles said, he was paid to help top recruits achieve eligibility and make sure they followed through with their commitment to sign with the Ducks.
”I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits,” Lyles told Yahoo! Sports. ”The service I provided went beyond what a scouting service should. I made a mistake and I’m big enough of a man to admit I was wrong.”
Lyles said Josh Gibson, Oregon’s assistant director of football operations, had knowledge of Lyles helping Seastrunk petition to have his grandmother, rather than his mother, sign his letter of intent. Seastrunk’s mother was opposed to her son going to Oregon.
”Indirectly I played a pivotal role in (Seastrunk signing with Oregon),” Lyles told the website.
Lyles said Kelly promised to become the recruiting service’s first client before Seastrunk’s guardianship was switched. Lyles said Kelly told him to bill Oregon for an amount equal to that charged by the top services, and they agreed to $25,000.
Lyles said Oregon never asked him for written profiles of any players from March 2010 until February 2011. When the request came, Lyles said, he believed it was because Oregon wanted to establish that he had provided legitimate scouting services.
Oregon last week released documents related to its use of Lyle’s recruiting services that suggest the school paid for outdated information.
The documents include a ”2010 National High School Evaluation Booklet” that actually includes high school athletes who graduated in 2009 and were a part of that year’s recruiting class. It was part of a package that purportedly was for athletes entering school in 2011.
”They said they just needed anything,” Lyles said. ”They asked for last-minute (stuff). So I gave them last-minute (stuff). I gave them, like, old stuff that I still had on my computer because I never thought that stuff would see the light of day.”
Lyles said he also arranged recruiting visits to Oregon for a number of prospects. He provided Yahoo! Sports with emails from Kelly and other members of the Ducks staff expressing appreciation for his help.