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Oregon, NCAA reach impasse in football investigation

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The University of Oregon's attempt to resolve an NCAA investigation through summary disposition has failed, two sources with knowledge of the Ducks' discussions told Yahoo! Sports.

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The NCAA is investigating the relationship between Chip Kelly's staff and a prep scout. (Getty Images)

The sources said Oregon is now anticipating an appearance before the NCAA's committee on infractions (COI) this spring – something the school was hoping to avoid following an investigation into the football program's financial relationship with prep adviser Will Lyles.

An NCAA spokesperson declined comment, citing its policy on ongoing investigations. Asked for comment, Oregon spokesperson Craig Pintens said, "The review is ongoing until the NCAA Committee on Infractions issues its final report. The integrity of the process and our continued full cooperation with the NCAA prohibits us from publicly discussing the specifics of this matter."

The NCAA has upcoming COI hearings – most commonly held in Indianapolis – scheduled for the middle of the months of February, April, June and August. The sources did not know which month has been scheduled for Oregon's hearing.

Yahoo! Sports reported a $25,000 payment from Oregon to Lyles for "scouting services" in March 2011. In July 2011 the prep adviser alleged to Yahoo! Sports the money was for his ability to influence and deliver recruits to the Ducks program. Following an NCAA investigation, Oregon began seeking a summary disposition in the case in early 2012. As part of that process, Oregon presented its stance in writing to the committee on infractions, suggesting the violations the school believed occurred, as well as the sanctions it believed were appropriate.

[Related: Scout details relationship with Chip Kelly]

The sources said the committee ultimately did not accept Oregon's presentment, disagreeing with "various aspects" of both the infractions the school believed occurred, and the sanctions the school deemed appropriate. That impasse has made a full-blown hearing necessary. Had Oregon's request for summary disposition been successful, the school could have avoided a hearing in which individuals such as head football coach Chip Kelly could be made to appear and take questions.

According to the NCAA's bylaws, a summary disposition process entails the following:

• Investigative findings from the individuals, school and NCAA enforcement staff are submitted to the committee on infractions. The school and individuals involved are also expected to submit the sanctions they believe are appropriate.

• The committee on infractions reviews the submissions and determines whether an adequate investigation occurred on the part of the school and NCAA enforcement staff. The committee also reviews the sanctions proposed by the school and individuals and determines whether they are appropriate.

• If the committee agrees on the investigative findings of the individuals, school and NCAA enforcement staff – and also agrees on the penalties suggested by the individuals and school – the committee then accepts the findings and sanctions, issues a report to each party, and the case is closed.

• If the committee doesn't agree with the findings or believes the infractions are serious enough to necessitate a full-blown hearing, it will call for a hearing.

• If the committee agrees on the findings but does not agree on the sanctions suggested by the individuals or school, the committee can propose additional penalties. If the individuals or school do not agree with the additional penalties it can request an expedited hearing in which only information pertaining to sanctions are discussed.

In June, the University of Tennessee had an infractions case involving Lyles and former assistant coach Willie Mack Garza resolved via summary disposition. However, it not uncommon for the process to fail and force a case to a hearing.

In February, Oregon responded to Freedom of Information requests by releasing draft correspondence between the school and the NCAA. The correspondence was heavily redacted by the school, completely concealing four of the seven findings proposed by the NCAA.

[Related: Read correspondence between Oregon and the NCAA (pdf)]

Among those that were not redacted by the school, the draft shows the NCAA proposed that Oregon: improperly used three scouting services; failed to monitor how the football program was using scouting services; and exceeded the number of permissible coaches from 2008-11 by one coach.

In a response to the NCAA's draft, Oregon altered the language in a fashion that lessened its role in some of the proposed infractions. Those changes included one key edit that appeared to focus blame on Lyles for not providing the written scouting services for which Oregon said it paid the $25,000.

In the first draft, the NCAA proposed:

• In 2010, the football program paid $25,000 for a subscription to Complete Scouting Services (CSS) and received oral reports from CSS representative Lyles. Additionally, the football program failed to gather recruiting or scouting information from CSS at least four times per calendar year, as required by NCAA recruiting or scouting legislation.

In its response, Oregon removed the phrase "failed to gather" and altered it to reflect what it termed as Lyles' service not providing what he had been paid the $25,000 for:

• In 2010, the football program paid $25,000 for a subscription to Complete Scouting Services (CSS) and received oral reports from CSS representative Lyles. Additionally, CSS did not disseminate to the football program recruiting or scouting information from CSS at least four times per calendar year, as required by NCAA recruiting or scouting legislation.

That disparity – and the total redaction of four other proposed violations could reflect why Oregon and the NCAA's committee on infractions have not been able to come to terms and now must head to a hearing.

The Ducks went 11-1 this season and will face Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.

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