Might want to find your place of safety; there are more storm clouds on the horizon.
The NCAA has a mess on its hands, trying to regulate, monitor or outright get rid of the use of “street agents” used in college football recruiting.
News broke yesterday that the University of Oregon is under the NCAA’s microscope for possible recruiting violations that involve a Texas man steering players to Eugene to play for the Ducks.
ESPN’s Joe Schad and Mark Schlabach are reporting that the NCAA is asking what role Texas-based trainer Willie Lyles played in Lache Seastrunk’s decision to play for the Ducks. Seastrunk was one of the country’s most highly recruited prospects in 2010.
The University of Oregon has admitted to paying Lyles $25,000 for “recruiting services” and contends that those services met NCAA rules.
Oregon head coach Chip Kelly agreed on Thursday. “Most programs purchase recruiting services. Our compliance office is aware of it. Will has a recruiting service that met NCAA rules and we used him in 2010.”
However, Seastrunk’s mother was apparently in the dark over the matter.
“Willie said he was a trainer,” Evelyn Seastrunk said. “Now Oregon says he’s a scout? Is he on Oregon’s payroll? If Willie Lyles collected $25,000 off my son he needs to be held accountable. The NCAA must find out for me. I don’t know how to digest someone cashing in on my son.”
The NCAA’s job is to clear the muddy water currently associated with the subject. But in the short term, one has to question the motives of a school sweeping in to recruit a player without the apparent full consent or knowledge of the process involved by his parents or guardians.
The old school method of recruiting was for a coaching staff to get to know a recruit and his family over the course of time, do their own evaluating and handle matters internally. The new brand seems to be to pay someone else to cast your net for you and keep the player’s family in the dark as to what’s really happening. One requires hard work and persistence. The other requires a check book and an apparent deplorable work ethic.
When news of the Cyrus Koundjio recruitment circus broke, I was astounded to hear that people associated with a certain program…some on the airwaves in Alabama…went on record saying his parents should stay out of his recruiting. His PARENTS for crying out loud! But, I digress…
Shockingly, there seems to be another Auburn tie-in to alleged sketchy recruiting practices. Says the ESPN report:
“Lyles, a Houston resident, has been tied to other high school players from Louisiana and Texas, who eventually signed with schools such as Auburn, Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma State, Southern California and Texas A&M.
“The NCAA, according to sources, is also examining Lyles’ relationship with Sean Nelson of Thibodeaux, La., whose own relationship with top football prospects has been scrutinized by the NCAA. Last month, NCAA investigators interviewed former Thibodeaux High School coach Dennis Lorio about Auburn’s recruitment of receiver Trovon Reed and offensive lineman Greg Robinson this year. Reed signed with Auburn last year; Robinson signed with the Tigers in February.
“Robinson and his mother also were questioned by NCAA officials.”
The legality of what has taken place on the recruiting trail involving these street agents is the source of the investigation.
The ESPN report goes on to quote former Florida coach Urban Meyer, who now works as a college football analyst for ESPN. Meyer says street agents are becoming an increasing problem in the sport.
“It’s certainly prevalent and it’s certainly out there,” Meyer said. “In some areas, it’s really out there.”
Perhaps what makes the use of street agents so unfair is that the same rules do not apply to them as do coaches. The issue appears very foggy. Dead period? Please. Saban rule? Give me a break. Bump rule? Riiight. Are these guys as stealthy as they seem, moving in and out of the lives of high profile recruits whenever and wherever they wish? And if they’re working for a school…for cash…that, friend, is called a loophole. But is it legal?
I first heard the term “street agent” when news broke of Cecil Newton admitting to shopping his son, Cameron Jerrell Newton, to at least one school (wink) for $180,000. Such a “street agent” was alleged to be involved in that transaction.
Other sources point to Auburn’s association with another person some call a “street agent” in the recruitment of current and former Auburn players from the state of Arkansas. Walt Williams, the target of a complaint filed by Lindsey Smart in Washington County circuit court over his services, has a longtime relationship with Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Williams makes his living (at least partially) representing high school athletes to prospective colleges, promoting their abilities in the hopes of giving them exposure for scholarship opportunities. Sound like the activity of an agent?
If you’ll remember, when Alabama paid for their sins at the turn of the century, it involved a high school coach steering his player, in this case Albert Means, to Tuscaloosa for a payout from a rogue booster…without the player’s knowledge.
In 2011, if what Chip Kelly says is true, and in light of the Cecil Newton “Cam didn’t know” farce, what Alabama got hammered for in 2002 is now permissible by NCAA rules. That’s still to be determined, however.
One side note to this story: I wonder if Nick Saban finds it humorous that both the reigning coach of the year and runner up are being looked into by the NCAA over their involvement with this lazy brand of recruiting and player evaluation?
And how ironic it would be if the NCAA determines that both teams in the 2011 BCS National Championship game got there illegally.
Regardless, two things are sure:
(1.) The NCAA has a mess on their hands in fixing this problem; and
(2.) Auburn again finds itself as a possible player in yet another dirty recruiting story.
Seems like more smoke billowing from Lee County to me.
Now if you will, go ahead and take cover. That sound you hear isn’t a tornado. It’s the sound of the state media rushing in to give us the “all clear” in Auburn as soon as possible. Thank goodness the national media isn’t too close to the fire to see the smoke.