The NCAA and its members apparently saw this coming.
In 2010, the NCAA amended bylaw 13.14.3, which sets regulations under which colleges are allowed to use recruiting services. The changes were an attempt to prevent recruiting services from essentially selling access to blue-chip recruits.
The NCAA apparently is investigating whether that was the case when Oregon paid $25,000 to Willie Lyles and his now-defunct Complete Scouting Services.
Before the amending of the bylaw, there was “minimal” regulation of the relationship between schools and recruiting services, said NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn.
The membership was concerned, Osburn said, that recruiting services might offer basic information that was easily accessible elsewhere in return for subscription fees that were really used to gain access to blue-chip recruits with ties to the service.
Lyles had close ties to highly sought-after running back Lache Seastrunk. He signed with the Ducks, who later paid Lyles’ service $25,000.
The amended bylaw attempts to prevent inappropriate transactions by:
-- prohibiting schools from purchasing more than one annual subscription to a particular service;
--ￊrequiring the same services be offered at the same rate to all subscribers;
--ￊrequiring the service to publicly identify all its rates and provide updated information at least four times per calendar year;
--requiring the service publicly identify whether its scope is local, regional or national and provide broad-based info from its area;
--ￊrequiring the service provide more than basic demographic info and rankings;
--ￊrequiring the service to provide samples of what it offers before purchase;
--ￊrequiring services offering video limit it to that from regularly scheduled games for which the college has not made prior arrangements for recording.
LSU has created a Recruiting/Scouting Service Approval Form that the services must fill out, saying that they adhere to the specifics of the bylaw.
Still, senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent admitted, “you’re basically on the honor system with these guys.”
High school coaches are also wary of the occasional bad apple in the cart of recruiting services.
High school players and their family will hire recruiting services to provide the player’s information and video to schools around the country in hopes of getting noticed. St. Michael the Archangel coach Eric Held said this time of the year is when high school seniors-to-be and their family can be “vulnerable.”
“The summer before their last year is crunch time if they haven’t been offered (a scholarship),” Held said. “Mom and Dad are going to do everything they can to help their kid, and that can mean spending thousands of dollars. We want to make sure the services they’re dealing with are on the up and up.”
Dutchtown coach Benny Saia, who has one of the most-sought after recruits in the country in senior-to-be safety Landon Collins, said college-caliber kids don’t need those services.
“I tell them it’s a waste of money,” Saia said. “If you can play, they will find you.” Saia makes sure by routinely sending video highlights of his players to colleges for free.
Dunham coach Guy Mistretta said he rarely sees recruiting services coming to his campus, but if he saw one showing up repeatedly and cozying up to a top prospect, that would be “a red flag.”
Lee Brecheen runs Baton Rouge-based Louisiana Sports Enterprises and has provided video and other information on high school players to colleges for the last 20 years - “since back in the VHS days,” he said. Brecheen said he welcomes the NCAA trying to weed out illegitimate services.
“We film our own games, and I break down the film before it goes to the colleges,” Brecheen said. “Some people don’t ever look at the film they’re sending out. Everything is evaluated off of film, seeing them in full pads. Everything else is fluff.”
Breechen said he steers clear of workout camps where some recruiting services will cultivate relationships with players.
“I don’t think that’s very wise,” Brecheen said. “You’re not a recruiter. You’re supplying information.”