Friday 247Sports.com Oregon football reporter Matt Prehm broke the news that one of the current Oregon football staffers who worked directly with Houston-based recruiting service operator Willie Lyles had been fired.
Lyles is currently at the center of a wide-ranging NCAA investigation into the Oregon football program’s recruiting methods.
From Prehm’s report:
Multiple sources close to the Oregon football program tell DuckTerritory.com that Assistant Director of Football Operations Josh Gibson is believed to be no longer working in the football office. It is unclear if Gibson has been fired, if he resigned or if he has been reassigned.
Multiple messages left on Gibson’s cell phone have not been returned.
When contacted by phone .. Oregon spokesman Dave Williford said. “I can’t confirm or deny that. Because that wasn’t something I was aware of.”
Oregon recently confirmed Kelly’s football program received spreadsheets containing names and phone numbers of high school football recruits from Lyles - on March 3.
Names and phone numbers Lyles told Yahoo last week were a result of Kelly and Oregon “scrambling” to account for their $25,000 payment to him 11+ months earlier.
Later, the Ken Goe of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN reported of Gibson’s job status:
“No,” UO spokesman Dave Williford told me Friday morning. “It’s not true. Nothing has changed.”
Williford said he went straight to UO athletic director Rob Mullens before commenting on Gibson’s status.
Willford said members of the football staff, including Gibson, currently are on vacation, but that Mullens said Gibson’s status in the football office remains unchanged.
“Rob was very emphatic,” Williford said.
With recently released documents showning interaction between Gibson and Lyles, along with on-the-record comments from Lyles to Yahoo Sports about Gibson’s role in the Ducks “scrambling” to obtain outdated recruiting documents from Lyles to account for UO’s $25,000 payment, it isn’t unreasonable to view a future Gibson ouster as UO scapegoating a low-level staffer for what may have been a blatant coverup attempt.
Until today, questions remained about just how involved Oregon head football coach Chip Kelly was in that possible coverup. But thanks to an appearance by Lyles on Houston radio Sunday, anyone wondering if Kelly was directly involved in obtained recruiting documents from Lyles 11 months and three weeks after the coach authorized a $25,000 payment to the Houston recruiting service operator, they aren’t now.
Appearing on Craig Shelton’s KCOH-AM radio show in Houston Sunday, Lyles confirmed that he dealt directly with Kelly during what appeared to be Oregon’s revisionist acquisition of recruiting materials from Lyles.
Shelton co-host Marcus Coleman to Lyles: “Was Chip Kelly directly in involved in the scramble for documents or was it strictly Josh Gibson?“
Lyles: “I spoke with Josh and I also spoke with Coach Kelly throughout that period and the phone records will reflect that. I spoke with both individuals.”
Shelton: “So Chip Kelly was a part of the entire deal?”
Lyles: “I spoke him with and we did discuss it, yes.”
On July 1, John Canzano of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN reported that Kelly claimed to not know “Willie Lyles” when the longtime Portland columnist first asked the Oregon Coach about his association with Lyles:
I spoke with University of Oregon football coach Chip Kelly in early March, amid reports that a Texas man named Willie Lyles was involved in a recruiting scandal that could bring down the Ducks program.
I believed him.
That same evening, a Yahoo Sports story reported that Lyles was paid $25,000 by Oregon. So I texted Kelly, asking him why he lied to me, and we ended up on the telephone, where Kelly insisted I’d confused him by asking about “Willie Lyles.” He said, “around here, we call him ‘Will.’
“We’ve already distanced ourselves from him, trust me.”
We’ll soon know for certain if Kelly indeed had “already distanced” himself from Lyles when he made the claim to the Portland columnist and radio talkshow host in early March, thanks to pending media requests of Kelly’s public phone, email and text records.