UPDATED 9:50 p.m. | LSU football coaches met with an NCAA official during an on-campus interview last week to answer questions regarding the program’s involvement with controversial recruiting service owner Will Lyles.
The school released a statement concerning the NCAA interview on Thursday afternoon. Bowing to requests from the NCAA and multiple media outlets, the statement also detailed the recruiting information supplied by Lyles and his Houston-based company, Complete Scouting Services.
“We wanted to define in a factual matter what was requested,” said Herb Vincent, LSU senior associate athletic director and university spokesman.
“We’ve gotten a lot of questions about what was sent (by Lyles’ company). We are trying to show that this is a recruiting service we worked with, they provided us with information, we paid for the information in a timely manner and these are the facts of the case as we know them.”
Vincent would not characterize the meeting between LSU coaches and the NCAA official as an NCAA investigation or even a preliminary interview. He also declined to say which coaches were interviewed, which day and whether the official was from the NCAA enforcement office.
According to LSU, the football coaching staff requested information from Complete Scouting Services on junior college prospects from California and Kansas.
College Scouting Services supplied information in two forms: DVDs and 91 pages of typewritten material.
According to LSU, the DVDs contained footage of 32 junior college prospects from California and Kansas who were part of the 2010-11 recruiting cycle. The prospects on the DVDs were eligible to sign national letters of intent in February.
The 91 typewritten pages consisted almost entirely of information pertaining to prospects who had finished junior college in 2009-10 and had already enrolled in four-year colleges by the time LSU received the information, according to the news release.
The DVDs also contained footage of one unnamed 2010-11 Texas high school prospect and one 2007-08 Kansas junior college prospect. Vincent said LSU did not request the information on those two prospects and that they were apparently included on the DVDs erroneously.
The only junior college prospect from California or Kansas which LSU signed in 2011 was quarterback Zach Mettenberger. A native of Watkinsville, Ga., Mettenberger played last season at Butler (Kan.) Community College.
LSU signed only two high school prospects from Texas this year: punter James Hairston of Dallas and linebacker Trevon Randle of League City.
According to a March report by Foxsports.com, Randle’s coach at Clear Springs High, Clint Hartman, said Lyles accompanied LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley on a recruiting visit to see Randle at the school.
The report went on to say that NCAA investigators subsequently interviewed Randle, Hartman, and Randle’s father, Raymond Edwards, regarding Lyles.
Lyles could potentially be regarded as a booster, and as such would be prohibited from steering a recruit to a school.
On Dec. 21, 2010, LSU cut a check for $6,000 to Complete Scouting Services for the information he provided on recruits.
The school has not said whether or not it has or will continue to use Lyles’ services. Lyles has reportedly said College Scouting Services is out of business.
“We deal with recruiting services on an as-needed basis,” Vincent said. “In past years we’ve dealt with one recruiting service one year and with others in another year.”
Oregon, LSU’s opponent in their Sept. 3 season opener in Arlington, Texas, has come under intense scrutiny for a payment of $25,000 to Lyles’ firm. In question is whether Lyles steered two Texas running backs – Texarkana’s LaMichael James and Temple’s Lache Seastrunk – to Oregon in return for a payment.
LSU heavily recruited Seastrunk, who will be a redshirt freshman this season. According to Yahoo! Sports, Seastrunk’s mother wanted him to attend LSU.
Lyles told Yahoo! Sports that Oregon coach Chip Kelly “scrambled” in February to ask Lyles to retroactively submit player profiles to the school to justify payment to his company.
“I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits,” Lyles told Yahoo! Sports.
Lyles told Yahoo! Sports that LSU, Oregon and California – reportedly the only three clients his firm ever had – all wanted to talk about Texas high school recruits. He also said that in contrast to Oregon, LSU provided him with a checklist to follow when submitting information for the junior college package it purchased.