Oregon gets off relatively easy in NCAA ruling

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Following an investigation that spanned over two years, the NCAA finally released its findings in the Oregon case on Wednesday.

And what had the formula for a hefty blow from the Committee on Infraction — the case included allegations of, among other things, Oregon paying recruiting service provider Willie Lyles $25,000 for his access and influence on recruits rather than a legitimate recruiting package — turned out to be a relatively painless result for the Ducks. Some of the sanctions handed down earlier today were self-imposed (minimal scholarship reductions, disassociation from Lyles), and while the NCAA’s additional reductions of official paid visits and permissible evaluation days are stiffer than many will care to pay attention to, it’s not a terrible outcome.

A bigger sanction would have been limiting the Ducks to 60 plays a game.

Oregon also cannot subscribe to recruiting services while on probation for the next three years (hello, YouTube!), but perhaps the best news is there’s no bowl ban for new coach Mark Helfrich to inherit.

UO hasn’t released a statement yet, but don’t expect them to appeal these sanction. Once again, being cooperative with the NCAA during the process helps significantly. For all the inconsistencies the NCAA has exhibited in handing down sanctions — the NCAA’s enforcement arm is aiming for more consistency beginning in August with a new penalty matrix — that seems to be among the few constants.

Chip Kelly was cooperative too even though he was hit with a failure to monitor charge. He gets an 18-month show-cause penalty that, incidentally enough, ends on Christmas Day, 2014. As the NCAA’s gift to him, Kelly becomes practically unemployable at a NCAA member program until then. Not that Kelly has to worry too much about that; he’s with the Philadelphia Eagles now and will be making a cool $9 million not to coach at the college level during the length of that penalty. It’s possible, in the loosest definition of the word, that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could take it upon himself to punish Kelly, but there are no specific penalties in Kelly’s show-cause.

But what if Kelly was still at Oregon? How would that have affected the penalties? NCAA guru John Infante speculates that Kelly could have faced a suspension, perhaps 2-4 games, and a recruiting ban over the length of the show-cause. Of course, that’s not happening now and the NCAA did what it could to punish the person responsible for violations taking place on his watch rather than athletes who had nothing to do with them.

Consider Oregon thankful. Now it can go forward with its new coach as a possible national title contender in 2013.