Ducks, Cal: Troubling Ties To ‘Mentor’ Of Recruits

Six days before Christmas, on Dec. 19, 2003, Otis Yelverton filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in a North Carolina Federal Court.

Otis Yelverton's ties to Oregon, Cal followed financial distress

Listing himself as “self-employed” with a monthly income of $4800.00, creditor claims totaled $989,628.36 against Yelverton at the time.

13 months later Yelverton filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in a North Carolina Federal Court, with the accompanying creditor claim register totaling $429,644.71 against Yelverton - who listed his employment as “construction” and “towing.”

Of his Wachovia checking account in the second filing, Yelverton reported a balance of “$0.00.

Otis Yelverton's ties to Oregon, Cal followed financial distress

Two years after the latter bankruptcy filing, in 2007, Yelverton was hit with a pair of Federal Tax Liens totaling over $10,000.

On Feb. 21, 2010, Ed Hardin of the GREENSBORO (NC) NEWS & RECORD reported that the same Yelverton was a local high school football coach and “mentor” of several top local high school football prospects:

Yelverton helped pay for trips to California for the group of young men, also arranging trips to Oregon, Washington and Alabama. He’s been doing this for years for area high school players, building a reputation here and across the country as a man who can connect recruiters with young men who might not otherwise have an opportunity to go to college outside the state.

The “group of young men” Hardin referenced included Cal football players Gabe King, Keenan Allen, Zach Maynard and Chris McCain and Oregon football players James Scales and Remene Alston, Jr.

Two weeks before Hardin’s piece, Yelverton presided over a Feb. 4., 2010, Greensboro press conference in which King, Allen and McCain committed to Cal while another Yelverton high school football protege, Zach Maynard, finalized a transfer from Buffalo to Cal. At the same Yelverton-hosted event, yet another local high school football player Yelverton claimed to have “mentored”, James Scales, announced he would soon enroll at Oregon. (Which he did, a month later.)

Otis Yelverton in Cal hat

(Otis Yelverton decked out in Cal gear on sideline in Berkeley)

Gabe King’s commitment to Cal came - strangely - by way of South Eugene (OR) High School. After the Greensboro-area high school football star was declared ineligible for attempting to transfer into a local school in which Yelverton had served as a “non-faculty” assistant football coach, Yelverton reportedly helped arrange King’s transfer to the Oregon high school located in the same city as the University of Oregon.

On Sept. 22, 2009, Robert Bell of the News & Record reported of Yelverton’s role in King’s transfer to South Eugene High School:

Sources in Oregon said King moved to Eugene after Oak Ridge Academy athletic director Otis Yelverton — a former assistant coach at Page, Grimsley and, until this year, Northern — recommended to King and his family that they move to Eugene

Otis Yelverton's ties to Oregon, Cal followed financial distress

Greg Biggins of ESPN.com also covered the prominent role the financially-challenged Yelverton had in the recruitment of Greensboro-area high school football stars who ultimately signed with Cal and Oregon. From a Biggins ESPN report dated August 24, 2009:

Otis Yelverton, or ‘Coach O’ as he’s known, coached at Northern Guilford before recently taking a head coaching position at Oakridge Military School. Coach O took the players on a series of unofficial visits this past summer that included stops at Alabama, Maryland, Oregon, Oregon State and Cal to name a few.

The visits to Oregon and Cal made a strong impression and the two schools have a chance to score big when decision time rolls around.

On June 19, 2009, A.J. Jacobson reported on one unofficial visit to the University of Oregon in which Yelverton escorted Greensboro high school recruits Allen, King, Scales, McCarin and Maurice Harris to an “Oregon coaches” football camp on campus. During the visit, Yelverton told Jacobson:

I’ve been out here five, six times per year since Remene (Alston, Jr.) got here.”

Alston joined the Oregon football team in 2007.

Tom Keller of the News & Record was at the Yelverton-hosted Greensboro signing day press conference on Feb. 4, 2010, which he described as “surreal” while adding:

It was a huge and unexpected cross-country package for the Golden Bears, and a rare flow of talent with Guilford County ties to any one school, much less one on the West Coast.

Keller also wrote of the role twice-bankrupted, IRS-targeted Yelverton played in the Greensboro players attending Cal and Oregon:

Scales, Allen, McCain and King visited Cal and Oregon among others on a 24,000-mile recruiting journey last summer with Yelverton, who is Oak Ridge Military’s athletics director and is a former assistant football coach at Northern, Page and Grimsley.

In the N & R piece dated Feb. 21, 2010, Hardin also wrote in his profile of Yelverton:

“Coach O is a great guy with a great big heart,” Remene Alston said. “I wouldn’t want his credit card bill.”

Alston’s son, Remene Alston Jr., is at Oregon because of Yelverton, and the family swears by him.

Two weeks after the 2/21/2010 piece by Hardin on Yelverton, Keller reported of Yelverton’s new job as Athletic Director and Head Football Coach at Oak Ridge Military Academy - and that Yelverton was working for free.

The three most prominent members of Oak Ridge Military Academy’s coaching staff have at least one thing in common: They’re working for free.

Girls basketball coach Delaney Rudd (who was introduced Monday), athletics director Otis Yelverton (who will re-launch the school’s football program as head coach in the fall) and boys basketball coach Stan Kowalewski (who signed a 30-year contract Monday) are working pro bono while the school digs out of a financial hole.

“No coach here is getting a dime,” Yelverton said. “It’s personal.”

Where did the money come to re-launch the school’s football program? From the same Greensboro New & Record story:

Yelverton also said Nike is donating $40,000 of equipment a year to the school, including four sets of football uniforms. He said he negotiated that deal through his relationship with the University of Oregon athletics department, a multimillion-dollar benefactor of Nike through its founder, Oregon alumnus Phil Knight.

On March 21, 2011, Jason Wolf of the News & Record reported on Yelverton’s first (and only) season at Oak Ridge:

Yelverton recruited about a dozen Division I-caliber athletes from across the country to launch Oak Ridge’s startup football program, which went 8-0 last season against a mix of regional public and private high schools and a community-based organization for at-risk teens, outscoring its opponents by a combined 329-15.

Five opponents canceled games after learning of the Cadets’ use of postgraduate players, which is prohibited by the two governing bodies for high school sports in the state.

News & Record reporter Wolf added in his story:

Otis Yelverton resigned as football coach and athletics director at Oak Ridge Military Academy on Monday, just hours before ORMA president David Johnson for the first time acknowledged to the News & Record that the school will no longer allow postgraduate players.

Yelverton said he is leaving to pursue an opportunity that is “not football-related,” but would not provide details.

“It may lead to nowhere, it may lead to one day I may be a general manager of maybe a professional basketball or baseball team. Who knows?” Yelverton said. “I’ve got to leave immediately, and that’s that. It’s something that I’ve been working on for a while.”

Four days after Yelverton announced that four Greensboro-area football stars would be attending Cal, the school sent out a press release noting that assistant football coach Tosh Lupoi had been named “College Football Recruiter of the Year” by Rivals.com.

Tosh Lupoi named recruiter of the year after signing 3 Yelverton-mentored players

Of the six high school recruits Rivals reported Lupoi helped Cal sign in 2010, three were Greensboro-area players “mentored” by Yelverton.

Brooks can be reached on Twitter, Facebook and directly at sportsbybrooks@gmail.com.