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Archive for September, 2011

NCAA investigating possible UO football recruiting violations

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Willie Lyles, recruiting analyst

According to The Oregonian, the University Athletics Department received a notice of inquiry from the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) for possible recruiting violations. The investigation regards the recruitment of former UO running back Lache Seastrunk and other possible infractions related to the Athletics Department. Texas recruiting analyst Willie Lyles, a longtime mentor to Seastrunk, has been interviewed a number of times by the NCAA about possible recruitment infractions. In response, UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens has been playing damage control, stating that

This notice has been anticipated and is simply the next stage of the process. The University of Oregon football program, from Head Coach Chip Kelly through the entire organization, has tremendous respect for the NCAA’s important role in monitoring collegiate athletics and, to this end, continues to fully cooperate with the NCAA ‘s ongoing examination.The Athletic Department, Coach Kelly and the entire staff remain committed to operating the athletics program consistent with the highest standards and ensuring our program follows best practices.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Lyles, the Texas recruiting analyst who sold the $25,000 recruiting package to the University after Seastrunk signed a college letter of intent with the Ducks, has a former history finagling running back LaMichael James as well as former players Dontae Williams and Marvin Davis onto the team for a hefty fee. While Ducks coach Chip Kelly informed Lyles that the UO would no longer need the services of Elite Scouting in January 2010 (the company Lyles had recently been let go from because of “nonperformance”), Lyles was still paid the $25,00o under the guise of his new recruiting business Complete Scouting Services on March 24, 2010. How much of this money has come from academic departments is currently under investigation.

The sickening twist to the whole story is that Seastrunk never played for the University — he transferred to Baylor instead. Which means that $25,000 of University money that could’ve gone to strengthening academic projects is now safely down the drain. This is yet another strike against the shady funding practices of the Athletics Department, and if their press release tells us anything it’s that some serious penalties could be leveled against the University. Similar cases at USC, Ohio State and North Carolina have led to resignations, leaves of absence and dismissals. “Chip’s job is quite safe,” Lariviere said after Oregon’s 56-7 victory over Missouri State last Saturday.

Besides insulating Kelly’s job to the relief of alumni and fans (who wants to fire a record-setting coach for a few pesky NCAA violations?), Lariviere has also hired the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck and King to do an “independent investigation” of UO policies. This doesn’t look good for the University, so Lariviere has ceded responsibility to an outside law firm that will cost the University even more money. “We’ve cooperated with the NCAA very extensively and looked at this really, really carefully internally, and I have very high confidence in this group of people,” Lariviere said. “Very high confidence.”

Let’s hope so, Dick. Because as Oregonian sports writer John Canzano pointed out in his Saturday column, “This is not what major college football is about.”

***

For a more detailed history of Willie Lyles’ involvement in the UO, click here.

For a day-by-day review of all things Athletics-related, check out UO Matters Athletics thread.

Capitalism: What Is It?

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Online “campus newspaper” The Undercurrent is hosting a kind of TED conference for capitalism, with a series of lectures and debates in defense of our glorious system of economic exchange The Undercurrent is not affiliated with any particular educational entity except the Ayn Rand Institute, with whom they collaborate to write long, detailed love letters to this woman.

Capitalism Week (Sept. 27th – Oct. 4th) will take place at different universities around the country and be broadcast live online for free. Topics include the financial crisis, the entitlement state, and two talks on the role of morality in capitalism and government economics.

More information can be found at their webste, http://capitalismweek.org/#events, or with that kid Ivan who sits in the back of your Poli Sci class and who has read The Fountainhead 20,000 times.

 

UO Public Records To Be Made Available To The Public

Friday, September 16th, 2011

In what has been described as a “total victory” for Bill Harbaugh, media enthusiasts, and lovers of administrative transparency everywhere, UO has waived the first $200 of its retrieval fee for journalists trying to access public university records.

Dear All –

We have good news on UO public records access. The UO Public Records Office has agreed to waive the first $200 in fees for “public interest” public records requests from the media. This includes requests from the traditional media and new media such as bloggers. The media will get this $200 waiver automatically, because of their long established role in helping make democracy work, by getting public information to the public. Requests from those seeking records for primarily commercial use or private benefit will of course still have to pay the actual costs.

The new policy should be announced at the UO PR Office website here shortly, and it takes effect today, 9/15/2011. This change was the result of talks between Dave Hubin of the President’s office, Liz Denecke of the PR Office, and the Senate Transparency Committee on how to improve transparency and trust at UO.

To my knowledge the Oregon DOJ and now UO are the first Oregon state agencies to adopt a sensible fee waiver policy of this sort. I think this new policy will increase the supply of public records about UO and lower the cost to UO of providing them. UO will be able to spend less time estimating costs and responding to questions about fees, and more time helping make the public’s documents public.
No institution is perfect. It is inevitable that some public records released under this policy will embarrass UO. I believe any such embarrassments will be followed by steps to fix problems, and that the long term result will be an increase in trust within UO, and between the state and UO. That is, of course the rationale for Oregon’s PR law and other state and federal “FOIA” laws.

The STC will meet 9/20 from 10:30-12:00 in room 410 PLC to discuss the details of implementation of this improvement, and ways to further improve public records access at UO. I will send a summary of this meeting afterwards. This is a public meeting, and the media (new and old!) are invited to attend.

I hope this change, and other changes the Transparency Committee will work with Ms Denecke to implement soon will become a model for other state agencies. With that in mind the STC is collecting data on the before and after costs and demand for records, and we will make a public report on this in the future.

Bill Harbaugh
Chair, UO Senate Transparency Committee

Professor of Economics
1285 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403

 

The Oregon Commentator takes this news with much relish (and mustard) and pledges to use the new transparency to give our University a new understanding of the phrase “wardrobe malfunction.”

 

[Edited for correctness 9/20/11 - Thanks Lyzi!]