Will Lyles Claims He Didn’t Know He Was Violating NCAA Rules, But That He Didn’t Sway Recruits to Attend Oregon

July 6, 2011 – 8:30 am by Eric Schmoldt

At best, Will Lyles is a scouting service owner who accepted $25,000 from the University of Oregon for services that have been hard to explain or prove. At worst, Lyles is a street agent who accepted money from the Ducks to help steer prized recruits like LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk to Eugene.

We’ll let the NCAA sort all of that out, but at this point, Lyles has emerged with a handful of interviews, including the following one where he says he’s coming out to tell the whole truth so that he can look at himself in the mirror, not because he feels burned by Oregon now that his service, Complete Scouting Services, is basically dead.

Lyles says he manipulated his comments to the NCAA to make things sound better than they were, but then also says he didn’t really know he was doing anything wrong. He says he accepted $25,000 for his services, but never persuaded recruits to attend a certain school. And he also admits that college recruiting has become a dirty, dirty practice.

Will Lyles joined 1080 The Fan in Portland with Isaac and Big Suke to discuss why his version of the story has changed a bit, if he was trying to protect Oregon, if he’s no longer trying to protect them because he feels hurt by the Ducks, why he didn’t know he was breaking NCAA rules, what exactly Oregon paid him $25,000 for, who else was paying him, why this isn’t the case of a guy with an axe to grind against Oregon and to explain that he didn’t tell recruits where to attend school.

Did you tell the NCAA one thing the first time and now switch to a different story?:

“My thing is I told the NCAA, I answered the questions that they asked me. A lot of the questions the Yahoo! guys asked me, [the NCAA] didn’t ask. I felt like I answered the questions honestly.”

Were you protecting the University of Oregon and now are you less willing to do that?:

“To an extent, yes. I feel like there was a sense of loyalty to them. I wasn’t dishonest about the questions though. When you talk to people, you can word things how you want to word them and they can seem different than what they normally are. You can just change it up and make it sound like it wasn’t as bad as it really was.”

Are you being more forthcoming with the information because you’re hurt by the University of Oregon?:

“I wouldn’t say it’s just because I feel like I’m hurt by the University of Oregon. I feel like it’s more I have to protect my name. I felt like my body of work was really good and the way it was portrayed … I was made to look really foolish. I didn’t like the way that felt because that’s not the body of work that I had.”

Did you get in over your head?:

“Yeah, in a sense, as far as the business side of things go and understanding how to operate that business. … It was like operating in gray areas. I’m wearing a mentor hat; I’m trying to be a business person … and being paid by a University. Those two things didn’t really jive well. … It’s just the way to handle business and have an understanding and grasp of the rules so you can do things the right way.”

But didn’t you know that everything you were doing was against NCAA rules?:

“No, I wouldn’t say that, no. Like I said, there were gray areas. It’s not a black or white thing. … Looking back at it and seeing some of the different bylaws that I had never seen before, then I said, ‘OK, well yeah, if that was the case, then I did break some rules.’”

Why did Oregon pay you $25,000?:

“I felt that Oregon was paying for the service. When I say the service, I mean providing them with information. I spoke with them so much. … We spent an extensive amount of time speaking with each other. I felt that a lot of things were done verbally, they just weren’t done on the written form. … At that point, I felt like everything was status quo and everything was good.”

How many other clients did you have and what were they paying you?:

“I had three clients that paid me — Cal, LSU and Oregon. And I was working on getting a lot of other clients. I worked with a lot of different schools in providing them information and showing them what I could do as far as a service.”

Is your service now essentially dead?:

“Yes, I feel that it is at this point. With everything and how it’s gone and the term street agent being used in conjunction with my name and the business name, I feel it’s extremely hard to recover from that.”

How do you respond to people who say you are coming out now because you’ve been ruined by this?:

“I don’t feel like I have an axe to grind because I just wanted to come out and say the truth. I wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘OK, just do the right thing.’ … I don’t dislike [Oregon]. They’re good people. … I just think we all got caught in a situation where they felt like they had to cover themselves. But by covering themselves they had to just kind of throw me by the wayside. It just wasn’t right the way it was handled.”

Why did Oregon pay you so much more than the other schools you list as clients?:

“Oregon was actually the first client. The other two schools paid for different information. Cal just wanted information on kids from the state of Texas. LSU wanted junior college information from California and from Kansas. Oregon, in turn, got a national package. … I felt that they were getting a good service from me because I did spend a lot of time talking to me. That’s why I felt they wanted to purchase a larger package and that’s how the price scale was broken down.”

What role did you play in getting LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk to go to Oregon?:

“I didn’t get them to go to the University of Oregon. They chose to go to the University of Oregon on their own. They had other opportunities to go to other schools, that’s just the school they chose to go to. I don’t tell kids where to go to school. I don’t. … I provide opportunity. … I don’t want it to come back on me, ‘You told me to go to this school and it didn’t work out, so it’s your fault.’”

How dirty do you think recruiting is in general?:

“I feel that, in a lot of instances, it’s very dirty. I really believe that. … I’ve been in this business for eight years now. I’ve heard a lot and seen a lot and it’s a very dirty game.”

Listen to Will Lyles on 1080 The Fan in Portland here

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