It appears Oregon and the NCAA could be heading toward summary disposition of the Will Lyles case. Two sources with extensive experience in NCAA investigations told CBSSports.com they believe that to be the case after reading documents released by Oregon last week in the Lyles case.
That would be somewhat positive news for a football program concerned about major sanctions surrounding the questionable $25,000 payment to Lyles for his recruiting expertise. Summary disposition essentially means that the NCAA and a school agree on a basic set of facts in a major infractions case. The school proposes its own penalties. In such an occurrence, Oregon would avoid an appearance before NCAA infractions committee, which would have to agree to summary disposition.
Such a decision would also cut down significantly on the length of the case. Oregon has been under investigation since September.
The fact that Oregon has “agreed” to three of the seven violations released after a public records request last week – the other four are redacted – is a sign that summary disposition could be on the way. Neither the Oregon nor the NCAA would confirm that assertion.
“When I read that [Oregon documents] I said, ‘Hey, it looks like they’re beginning the process of going to summary,” said Michael Buckner, a South Florida-based attorney with 13 years experience assisting schools through NCAA investigations.
His research showed eight cases disposed of by summary disposition in 2011. That includes the notable West Virginia case decided in July. In both the Oregon and West Virginia cases, it was found that the number of football coaches exceeded the permissible limit in various activities.
If nothing else, summary disposition would signal a lack of contentiousness between the NCAA and Oregon.
“Basically what you’re doing, you don’t have to go to [an infractions committee] hearing,” Buckner said. “You’re not spending all the time and money for a hearing. Secondly, you’re trying to predict by putting down on paper and agreeing on sanctions.”
Summary disposition was a tool added a few years ago to streamline the investigative process. From the NCAA website: Summary disposition is a cooperative process between the school, involved individuals and the NCAA enforcement staff. If these groups agree about the facts and the penalties presented in the report, an in-person hearing may be averted depending on the Committee of Infractions. The COI reviews the report in private and decides to either accept the findings and penalties or conduct an expedited hearing. A school that would become a repeat-violator cannot use the summary disposition process and must go before the Committee on Infractions.
Oregon is not believed to be a repeat violator which would make the program eligible for enhanced penalties. To be eligible, a school would have to have a major violation in its athletic department during the past five years.
Since that formal investigation began in September, Oregon has not so much as received a notice of allegations from the NCAA, which would signal the next step of the investigation. But the documents in question could be a draft version of that notice. In fact, the second of two four-page documents is labeled, “Revised Draft for discussion purposes.”
While Oregon could face major penalties from the case, the fact that it has “agreed” to wrongdoing in the documents is different from more combative language where the NCAA would have “alleged” wrongdoing.
“Once the school tells them, ‘Yes, we want to go summary disposition, they change it from, ‘it is alleged’ to , ‘that it is agreed,’ said another source familiar with the NCAA enforcement process. “That’s what the language [in the Oregon documents] would suggest.”
In the documents, Oregon agrees that …
--From 2008-2011 it paid for at least three recruiting subscription services.
--In 2008 and 2009 it paid $6,500 and $10,000 to Elite Scouting Services and received reports from Lyles and partner Charles Fishbein
--In 2009 paid $3,745 for service from New Level Athletics and its rep Baron Flenory.
--In 2010 paid $25,000 for a subscription to Complete Scouting Services and reports from Lyles. The service “did not disseminate” recruiting information at least four times per year in violation of NCAA rules.
--From 2009-2011 the program had one more coach out recruiting than allowed.
--There was a failure to monitor football’s use of recruiting services.
Here are those Oregon proposed findings of violations released last week after Freedom of Information Act requests from media outlets.
The Lyles story was broken almost a year ago by Yahoo! It centered on running back Lache Seastrunk who has since transferred to Baylor. Lyles later told Yahoo! that Oregon coach Chip Kelly “scrambled” urging Lyles to produce retroactive recruiting evaluations to justify the $25,000 expense.
You can find a further definition of summary disposition in the NCAA Manual here on page 401.
The NCAA has stepped its enforcement procedures regarding third-party influences in football recruiting. Last year it established a football investigation arm headed by a former Indianapolis deputy police chief.