Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Lyles admits to errors of commission

Willie Lyles

Willie Lyles

By Joseph Duarte / Houston Chronicle
Class of 1995

Willie Lyles rolls up his sleeve to show burn marks from his job baking bread at a downtown Houston store.
“It pays the bills,” Lyles said.

Not long ago, before he became the key figure in the ongoing NCAA investigation into the University of Oregon football program, Lyles had other career plans. He was the owner of a fledgling scouting service he ran out of his home in southeast Houston.

Then his name was linked to a $25,000 payment by Oregon — he alleges the school did not pay for his scouting services but for his access and influence with top recruits, most notably Lache Seastrunk and LaMichael James.

Because of the national attention, Lyles said he had no choice but to close his business. Since then, he has been turned down for non-football-related jobs as well for “being unethical.”

“I feel in a lot of ways my business is a dead business because of how my personal name and my business name will attract terms like street agent, pimp, slimeball, sleezebag, among other things I’ve been called,” Lyles said. “In a lot of those instances, I think people judge me unfairly because they said things and didn’t even know the full story.”

Lyles’ role as a mentor to prospects, while at the same time being a paid contractor to Oregon, is believed to be paramount to the NCAA’s investigation, according to Yahoo Sports.

The NCAA interviewed Lyles for several hours as part of its investigation into the Oregon football program in early May. Lyles expects the NCAA to speak with him again after the latest disclosures. If found to have violated NCAA rules, Oregon could face sanctions; Seastrunk and James could face risks to their eligibility.

Read the entire story on the Houston Chronicle’s website.

Connect

TwitterEmail