The University of Oregon Ducks face off against Louisiana State University Tigers in the “Cowboy Classic” this Saturday in Texas. Both teams are ranked high going into the season, with the Ducks itching for another chance at the BCS championship. They lost that game by just three points last year. Both teams are also under scrutiny from the NCAA for possible recruiting violations involving a man named Willie Lyles.
Lyles is a talent scout who got paid by both University of Oregon and LSU. The schools and Lyles say the payment ($25,000 from Oregon and $6,000 from LSU) was for video footage of star players in high school football games. The payments also coincided with sought-after players’ decisions to commit to LSU and Oregon respectively. If the universities paid Lyles to recruit players, that would be a violation of NCAA rules, especially if any of the money ended up going to the players themselves.
And that’s not the only baggage LSU and Oregon have going into the first game of the season. Each team has star players who won’t be on the field due to legal and ethical issues. Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris is facing a slew of traffic violations including, most recently, a 118 mph speeding ticket he got while driving with a suspended license. Just over a week ago, two LSU players — starting quarterback Jordon Jefferson and linebacker Josh Johns — were arrested in connection with a bar fight. Both have been suspended from the team indefinitely.
Are you a college football fan? Have your feelings about your favorite team changed because of legal or ethical issues?
- Ken Goe: Sports writer for The Oregonian
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OPB | Feb. 22, 2017