It turns out the rumors that bubbled all week are true: Oregon is under NCAA scrutiny, according ESPN.com's to Joe Schad and Mark Schlabach.
They reported Thursday night that NCAA officials are examining whether or not a Texas man helped steer high school football prospects to Oregon, and Ducks officials said the school paid the man $25,000 in the spring of 2010 for recruiting services.
Oregon released a statement on the report:
The athletics department paid for services rendered by a pair of scouting services that were processed through the athletics department business office to Complete Scouting Services and New Level Athletics. This is no different than services purchased by a number of colleges and universities throughout the country.
This is something we remain confident that is within the acceptable guidelines allowed by the NCAA and occurred with the knowledge of the department’s compliance office.
We have previously stated that we have not been in contact with anyone from the NCAA or Pacific-10 Conference in regards to these practices and that situation remains unchanged.
The NCAA is specifically reviewing the recruiting of running back Lache Seastrunk, a redshirt freshman from Temple, Texas, sources told ESPN.com, and what role Texas-based trainer Willie Lyles played in Seastrunk's decision to attend Oregon.
Said the report:
Oregon athletics department spokesman Dave Williford confirmed to ESPN.com on Thursday that Oregon paid Lyles $25,000 for his recruiting services. Oregon's payment to Lyles was made shortly after Seastrunk signed a national letter of intent in February 2010 to play football for the Ducks, choosing them over California, LSU and USC.
The NCAA also is examining Lyles' relationship with Ducks tailback LaMichael James, according to the report. In December, Lyles was James' guest at the ESPNU Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
The NCAA has been investigating the spread of "street agents" in college football -- third parties who insinuate themselves into the recruiting process, either as trainers, camp coaches or employees of recruiting services.
The key question is whether or not NCAA investigators find that any third parties specifically recruited for Oregon and then got paid for their services. That would violate NCAA rules.
On Wednesday, Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said the school had not been contacted by the NCAA about any investigation.