Willie Lyles: Oregon got late profiles
Willie Lyles, a scouting service owner paid $25,000 by the University of Oregon and the man at the center of an NCAA inquiry into the Ducks' football program, said that the school asked him to submit retroactive players profiles to justify the payment, according to a report by Yahoo! Sports.
Lyles told Yahoo! that Ducks coach Chip Kelly "scrambled" and eventually asked Lyles to "find out what the best paying services is" and send the school a bill for that amount. Lyles said Kelly personally approved the $25,000 fee for Lyles' services.
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Lyles told Yahoo! that he didn't send the school a single written profile from March 2010 to February 2011, but did say he talked to Oregon coaches on the phone about prospects. That changed after reports in March surfaced that the school had paid Lyles for his services, he said.
"They said they just needed anything," Lyles told Yahoo!. "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."
The school released the profiles last month. Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement that the department "is committed to helping the NCAA in any way possible and until their work is complete, we are unable to comment further."
Kelly did not comment on the Yahoo! story.
"There was no quid pro quo," Lyles said, claiming no school, including Oregon, ever asked him to direct a player. "Never. It wouldn't make sense for me to help one school. I was trying to get every school to buy my service. That was my business."
Lyles also told Yahoo! Sports he was interviewed by the NCAA for six hours last month.
In an interview with The Oregonian of Portland, Lyles said the university's release of his recruiting profiles in response to media freedom of information requests was intended to put him in a bad light. He said he had a multiyear agreement with Kelly and his decision to talk to the media was prompted by how he was treated by the university.
"(Oregon) tried to make me seem incompetent," Lyles said, according to The Oregonian. "The other spreadsheet I gave them was a lot more extensive, when they didn't release that, it was like, 'Let's make it look like Willie didn't deliver what he said he was going to deliver.' "
He also said he doesn't care if he gets the $25,000 he believes he is owed by Oregon for his work on the 2012 recruiting class.
"If I get the money? If I don't get the money? At this point, I don't care. This isn't just affecting me in the football world, it's affecting me as far as getting regular jobs," Lyles said, according to The Oregonian. "When I have kids one day, when they Google me, I don't want them to see all this crap about me."
Earlier this week, the Eugene Register-Guard reported that Oregon retained lawyer Mike Glazier in March to look after its interests as the NCAA examines the football program and its business with Lyles. The paper said that the decision "signaled that this NCAA inquiry is a very significant matter," and "Oregon is taking this thing very, very seriously -- and has been from the start."
In May, Lyles defended himself in an online podcast with FoxSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock, calling allegations that he asked Texas A&M to "beat" an $80,000 offer for star recruit Patrick Peterson "unequivocally false."
On March 30, former Texas A&M cornerbacks coach Van Malone told ESPN's Kelly Naqi that Lyles had phoned him to say it would take $80,000 to get Peterson, who wound up at LSU and was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals.
Oregon admitted paying Lyles for his recruiting services last spring. Oregon has contended that it acted within NCAA rules through its recruitment of Lache Seastrunk, a redshirt freshman from Temple, Texas, who was one of the country's most highly recruited prospects in 2010 along with LaMichael James and others. The NCAA would not comment on its investigation, but it reportedly involves Lyles' role in steering players to Oregon, and whether he should have been classified as a representative of Oregon's athlete interests or if he gave potential recruits impermissible benefits.
Lyles said he was involved in getting James to finish the final semester of his senior year of high school in Arkansas so he could avoid a standardized Texas math test which he had not passed. Lyles said Kelly told him it was a great idea, Yahoo! Sports reported.
Lyles has maintained that he never sold recruits to a school.
"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 that he is no longer running a scouting service.