Now that the regular season is complete and we await the Rose Bowl match with Wisconsin, the questions have begun to creep up about the investigation the NCAA is performing into Oregon's use of recruiting services.
My regular readers do not need to be inundated with a history lesson on this subject. To do so is lazy journalism that implies stupidity on the readers parts and fills pages with meaningless repetitive information.
The reason we have not heard yet from the NCAA with whether a notice of allegations is due soon is simple; the NCAA has not completed their investigation. I just received word today that the NCAA has another interview with a different former player this Wednesday. To the best of my knowledge, this will be the final interview of former players or current players and their dealings with Will Lyles.
There is no doubt, now, that prospects who were being mentored by Will Lyles received improper benefits. These players, including the player to be interviewed this week, have been granted full immunity for their information. At the moment, there seems no need for concern that the immunity is a sign of bad things to come for Oregon.
Players need immunity because, in the case of the players mentored by Lyles, the players come from families with very little means with which to repay the benefits they received. Without immunity, the players would be suspended for 4 games, but would not be eligible for reinstatement until the benefits had been repaid to charity. It is known that the Ducks discovered the improper benefits of at least one former player and suspended him for 4 games. The Ducks were working with the player to repay the benefits prior to his departure from the program.
The request for immunity does not signal doom, rather it signals the players admission that they did indeed receive benefits that fall outside of the scope of permissibility. Lyles gave many young men benefits that he knew were improper and the NCAA, for once, is doing an honorable thing and finding a way to allow these young men to continue playing football.
To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing the NCAA will learn this week that they did not already know. The player in question did not take any unofficial visits to Oregon. He did visit other schools for camps and that will likely be a point of emphasis in the questions. Though the NCAA is sure to also ask about Lyles' influence during the recruiting process, in this particular case, that influence was not as significant as with other players.
The sad truth is that Will Lyles did provide some true assistance to many of the young men he mentored. There are some that would never have made it into college without his assistance. That assistance was sincere and well intentioned. Unfortunately, Will Lyles also provided considerable improper benefits to many young men.
While the investigation appears to be winding down, the questions will likely persist for a long time to come. Rest assured, though, Duck fans, that the investigative process is almost complete. This Wednesday's interview is likely the last to be conducted of a player by the NCAA.