POSTED: 8:53 a.m. HST, Sep 17, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 8:51 p.m. HST, Sep 17, 2011
EUGENE, Ore. >> Oregon has received formal notice of the NCAA investigation into its program's use of recruiting services.
The NCAA relayed the official Notice of Inquiry in a telephone call to Oregon President Richard Lariviere this week, the Ducks announced a few hours before No. 12 Oregon's game against Missouri State on Saturday.
The inquiry is the result of reports that surfaced earlier this year concerning payments Oregon made to recruiting services, including a $25,000 payment to Willie Lyles and Houston-based Complete Scouting Services.
When Oregon released some of what it said Lyles had provided for the fee, the material was largely outdated. The payment came a month after Oregon landed a highly touted recruit from Texas.
Oregon has already retained independent legal counsel in the matter. The law firm is conducting its own investigation of the matter and the results will be made public," the school said.
"This notice has been anticipated and is simply the next stage of the process," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. "The University of Oregon football program, from head coach Chip Kelly through the entire organization, has tremendous respect for the NCAA's important role in monitoring collegiate athletics and, to this end, continues to fully cooperate with the NCAA's ongoing examination."
In the statement, Mullens said there would be no further comment on the matter.
After Oregon's 56-7 victory over Missouri State, Ducks coach Chip Kelly was asked whether he anticipates sanctions now that the investigation has been formalized.
"I can't speculate on that to be honest with you. All I know is we fully cooperate with the NCAA and I look forward to their findings," Kelly said.
He did not address the matter with the team before the game, he said.
The NCAA had previously asked the university to provide information regarding its use of recruiting services in a March 4 email that was released in June by the school along with the recruiting package provided by Lyles. Several news organizations had requested the information.
Documents showed Oregon paid Lyles in March 2010, a month after Oregon received a letter of intent from Texas running back Lache Seastrunk. Lyles had a mentoring relationship with Seastrunk, who transferred this fall to Baylor.
Lyles has not responded to several calls and emails from The Associated Press seeking comment. He has said in interviews that he has met with NCAA officials.
Several other schools, including LSU, have acknowledged using Lyles' services.
The NCAA will not comment on ongoing investigations.
Running back LaMichael James, who ran for 204 yards and three touchdowns for the Ducks on Saturday, was asked whether the team was bothered by the allegations concerning the payment. It would be an NCAA violation if Lyles steered a recruit to Oregon.
James responded "100 percent not."
"We have to go out there and get it done every week, no matter what anybody has to say," he said.