- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Oregon and the NCAA agree: The football program committed major violations in connection to the Willie Lyles case, The Oregonian and Portland, Ore., television station KATU reported Monday.
The disagreement, however, that prevented Oregon and the NCAA from reaching a summary judgment is this, from The Oregonian:
Oregon and the NCAA, however, reached an impasse late in 2012 while attempting to agree on the severity of one violation concerning the Ducks' $25,000 payment to Texas-based talent scout Willie Lyles. The Ducks believe the impermissible "oral reports" delivered from Lyles constitute a secondary violation; NCAA enforcement officials believe them to be another "major violation."
It makes sense that's at issue, although the Pac-12 blog is of the mind that this impasse was more about the NCAA's committee on infractions (COI), which demanded a hearing, than the NCAA's enforcement staff, which seemed to be in accord with Oregon.
The strength of Oregon's position is the way the NCAA reacted to other recent cases, as well as the gray area with NCAA rules on recruiting services.
The strength of the NCAA's position is that it can do what it wants, then justify it after the fact, such as when former Miami athletic director Paul Dee said about USC's Reggie Bush, "High-profile athletes require high-profile compliance," which he just spun together for reporters because it doesn't exist in the NCAA rulebook.
Still, there is good news for Oregon from these reports, and it might be more important than what led the story:
However, the documents also state NCAA enforcement staff said they had "no finding of lack of institutional control and no finding of unethical conduct," key points when it comes time for punishment to be considered, KATU reported. Oregon is expected to appear before the NCAA's committee on infractions sometime this year.
"Lack of institutional control" and "unethical conduct" are the killers when it comes to penalties. Those quash postseasons and handfuls of scholarships. Of course, these documents are dated, so it's possible, if unlikely, the COI could up the ante.
Further, Oregon's case is probably helped by the program's big news this year: The departure of coach Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Violations connected to Lyles came on Kelly's watch. He's gone. That should soften the eventual blow to some extent.
To show you the university's thinking, it "proposed to self-impose a two-year probation for the football program and a reduction of one scholarship for each of the next three seasons."
It wanted to be whipped by a wet noodle three times.
Yet even if you doubled that -- four years of probation and two scholarships for each of the next three seasons -- you're not talking about a major hit to the program. Signing just 23 and maxing out at 83 scholarships for the next three years won't knock the Ducks out of the nation's top 10.