Oregon Football Wins Big with Minimal NCAA Sanctions

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The Ducks avoid major penalties following completion of NCAA investigation.

"Win the Day" is a phrase associated with Oregon’s football program in recent years. And with Wednesday’s announcement of penalties from a recent NCAA investigation into the program, there’s no question the Ducks came out a winner.

After a lengthy investigation and attempt at a summary judgment with Oregon, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions finally announced its findings from an investigation into the football program and former head coach Chip Kelly.

And for Oregon and new coach Mark Helfrich, the news wasn’t as bad as some initially feared when this investigation began in 2011.

Most importantly, the Ducks avoided a bowl ban and will be eligible to compete for the national championship this season.

Here’s the rundown on the other penalties:

• Oregon was hit with a loss of one scholarship for three seasons (2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16).

• Former coach Chip Kelly was hit with an 18-month show-cause penalty.

• A former assistant director of operations received a one-year show-cause penalty.

• Oregon was placed on three years probation, starting on June 26, 2013 and ending on June 25, 2016.

• Oregon’s football evaluation days have been reduced from 42 to 36 in the fall of 2013, '14 and '15. And the permissible football evaluation days have dropped from 168 to 144 for the spring of 2014, '15 and '16.

• The Ducks are also not allowed to have a subscription to a recruiting service during the three-year probation period.
 

What’s the Biggest Takeaway from Wednesday’s Announcement?

The easiest way to characterize Oregon’s punishment: It’s hardly anything to be worried about. The Ducks certainly won’t be affected by the loss of a couple of scholarships and not having a bowl ban keeps the program alive for the national title in 2013.

Losing the evaluation days is a big deal, but nothing that should derail the program from continuing to win at a high level. The Ducks have an established brand on the recruiting, as evidenced by the program finishing inside of the top 20 in Athlon’s recruiting ranks in each of the last four seasons.

In Oregon’s case, the Committee on Infractions placed a heavy emphasis on the violator (Chip Kelly), rather than punishing the players currently on the roster. And the program’s cooperation with the NCAA significantly helped to prevent the penalties and infractions from being worse.

Overall, this is the best-case outcome for Oregon. The probation period and scholarship reductions are manageable, and there’s no long-term damage to the program through an extended bowl ban.
 

What does it mean for the Pac-12 and National Title Race for 2013?

With Oregon eligible for postseason play, the Pac-12 has two of college football’s top-10 national title contenders. The coaching transition from Kelly to Helfrich will be a challenge, but the Ducks still have some of the nation’s best personnel.

Even if Oregon does not make the national championship, having the Ducks eligible to play in a bowl game is huge for the Pac-12. Oregon, along with Stanford, should be in the mix for a BCS bowl. Having the Ducks eligible to compete for a BCS bowl is potentially a huge boost to the Pac-12 in terms of postseason revenue, especially if Oregon and Stanford both qualify for BCS games.

Oregon will have a chance to appeal its penalties. However, considering the committee’s ruling was in their favor, the school probably won’t appeal.

Oregon reportedly paid the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King at least $208,991 over the last 19 months, as the program was dealing with the ongoing NCAA investigation.

No program wants to appear in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions. However, thanks to its full cooperation, Oregon has avoided any major penalties and can breathe a sigh of relief knowing this chapter from the Chip Kelly era has closed.

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