Willie Lyles defends himself in podcast
Willie Lyles, the Texas-based football trainer who is under NCAA investigation after receiving $25,000 from the University of Oregon and who has been accused of asking Texas A&M to "beat" an $80,000 offer for star recruit Patrick Peterson in 2007, defended himself in an online podcast posted Saturday.
Lyles, speaking on FoxSports.com to columnist Jason Whitlock, called the Peterson allegations "unequivocally false" and also denied that he took money to steer running back Lache Seastrunk to Oregon.
"[Lache] chose Oregon because he felt Oregon was the best fit for him," Lyles said on the podcast. "He liked the running backs coach, Gary Campbell, and he felt it was a good system and a good fit for him. [Lache] enjoyed the campus when he went on his visit and he enjoyed the people. He made the decision that was best for him."
On March 30, former Texas A&M cornerbacks coach Van Malone told ESPN's Kelly Naqi that Lyles phoned him in 2007 after Peterson had visited the school and said, "... If you want this kid, there are other schools that want this kid as well. They're willing to pay a certain amount of money, around the $80,000 mark."
Peterson ended up signing with LSU. He was drafted last week by the Arizona Cardinals in the first round of the NFL draft.
Earlier this year, Oregon said it had been contacted by the NCAA to provide documentation about its use of a pair of recruiting services, including one run by Lyles. Oregon told ESPN.com the school paid Lyles $25,000 for recruiting services in last spring. Sources told ESPN.com that the NCAA was interested in the recruitment of Seastrunk.
Oregon said it is confident it acted within NCAA rules.
Lyles did not return repeated calls for comment from ESPN for both stories.
On the podcast, Lyles said that the NCAA had reached out to talk to him, but he had not spoken to investigators. "I just haven't set up an interview time as of yet," he said. "So I just haven't decided on when and where that's gonna take place."
Lyles said on the podcast that his case has been overblown. "The sensationalism of [the scandal] just caught like wildfire," he said.
He also said the University of Texas has "a problem" with seeing players like Seastrunk and LaMichael James, another Oregon running back, going to school outside the state.
"There's a particular entity out there that would like to see the movement of players from the state of Texas to schools out of state stopped," Lyles said. "It's been well-documented on the blogosphere stating those objections and stating those issues with kids leaving the state of Texas.
"That would be the University of Texas and they do have a problem with people leaving the state of Texas."
ESPN recently entered into a 20-year agreement with Texas to start a television network featuring the school's teams.
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