NCAA Football: Oregon Gets A Gentle Rebuke From The NCAA

USA TODAY Sports

Well, it wasn't a wet, sloppy kiss, but its about as punishing as a colonoscopy.

After a 27-month NCAA rectal exam, the Oregon Ducks football program learned its fate yesterday, and it's pretty painless. I just want to point out, at the outset and for the record, that former Oregon and current Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, like Pete Carroll, actually did what John Calipari's detractors have always accused him of doing -- damaged the program and run from the consequences.

Let's look at the damage, per SB Nation's Rodger Sherman. I'm going to skip the boilerplate and hit the high points:

  • 3 years probation

  • Scholarship reductions from 25 to 24 for two years starting this year.

  • Total athletic scholarships reduce by one for two years starting this year.

  • Recruiting official visits reduced.

  • Football evaluation days reduced.

  • Ban on subscription to recruiting services like Rivals.com or others during probation.

  • Street agent Willie Lyles disassociated [school imposed].

  • 18 month show-cause order on former coach Chip Kelly.

Notably, there was no bowl ban, which has to make the Duck faithful happy.

I'm sure that show-cause order will much trouble Kelly on the way to the bank to collect his fat salary as the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. In my view, after something like this, the NFL should fine their coaches 30% of their salary and donate it to scholarship programs for underprivileged youth. Yes, it should be the same way in the NBA. And lies statements like this one shouldn't be allowed:

"Now that the NCAA has concluded their investigation and penalized the University of Oregon and its football program, I want to apologize to the University of Oregon, all of its current and former players and their fans," Kelly said in his statement, via Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. "I accept my share of responsibility for the actions that led to the penalties. As I have I stated before, the NCAA investigation and subsequent ruling had no impact on my decision to leave Oregon for Philadelphia. [My emphasis]

Yeah, Chip, we know that was your master plan the whole time. These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

As a further irony, consider this:

And while we're talking about people no longer at their jobs, the NCAA recently fired its head of enforcement, Julie Roe Lach, after the botched Miami investigation, meaning the person likely dealing with punishing the Ducks has also changed.

While we're talking about change, during this investigation every major figure at Oregon has changed: Coach, athletics director, and even college president.

Oregon fans are calling this a slap on the wrist, and I'd say that's probably right. This perception from Peter Bean of Burnt Orange Nation back in 2011 turned out to be pretty much spot on:

But what if Oregon's guilty? What if, like Jim Tressel at Ohio State, they were guilty of misconduct with Will Lyles? What if the misconduct was relatively mild -- perhaps an inappropriate purchase of crap product from someone simply because he's friendly to the program, such charitable purchase not meant in any way to create an understanding that recruits were to be delivered? However partially defensible in an extremely limited, extremely questionable capacity, such a practice is at best unseemly, an obvious compliance problem, and an utterly reckless practice that invites huge trouble. [My emphasis]

It did invite huge trouble, but huge trouble was probably forestalled by the timeliness and length of the NCAA investigation. That the investigation took 27 months to adjudicate was definitely a problem for the school, but the actual punishment is not as harsh as many of the school's detractors had hoped.

By the way, if you're not up on the whole Oregon scandal, you can read the rest of Peter's post to get a feel for what it was all about.

In the final analysis, this looks, for all the world, like one of two things: the "new, hold-the-coach-accountable NCAA" which will slap show-cause penalties on coaches for any major violation and not much else, or the "new, toothless NCAA" rendered impotent by a lack of qualified investigators.

You'll have to decide which for yourself. I suppose a combination of both is a viable third option.

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