Tag Archive: Mike Glazier


The number three-ranked Oregon Ducks begin practice tomorrow with a big-time, storm-cloud hanging over the program.

It is the prospect of some kind of NCAA penalty (ranging from the proverbial wrist slap to something much more substantial) arising from a $25,000 payment to “recruiting services” guru/ “street agent”/stud athlete “mentor” Willie Lyles of Houston, Texas.

Under the advice of the department’s hired legal gun, sports attorney Mike “The Cleaner” Glazier of the Collegiate Sports Practice Group of Bond, Schoeneck & King, Head Coach Chip Kelly and/or Athletic Director Rob Mullens will deliberately be both cautious and boring with the media when asked about Lyles. Why unintentionally resurrect the incident, when a more interesting competing story is at hand…the commencement of fall practice and the preparation for the nationally televised opener Sept. 3 against LSU?

Kelly as expected tomorrow will mumble something about allowing Glazier’s internal probe of the le affaire Lyles while continuing to cooperate with the NCAA. This is a textbook public relations punt formation.

But is there another course that Oregon can take that may even win the approval of legal counsel and at the same time improve the program’s reputation and brand?

How about being on the side of working with the NCAA on legislation that essentially curtails so-called “street agents” that are trying to ultimately make big bucks off high-school football prodigies? Isn’t this another way of cooperating with the NCAA? Instead of being seen as being part of the problem, why doesn’t Oregon become part of the solution?

Former President Bill Clinton confounded his Republican critics in the wake of charges that he illegally raised campaign funds for both himself and the Democratic National Committee from the Oval Office. After the allegations were made, he quickly pivoted and became a champion of “campaign finance reform.” Some offered the metaphor of Al Capone opposing bank robbing after he was caught red-handed to describe Clinton’s actions. Nonetheless, Clinton offered a solution to the issue and took political steam away from his critics.

In no way in offering this aside am I comparing the Oregon Athletic Department to the Clinton administration. What I am saying is that street agents are a clear-and-present danger to the integrity of high school and college football. It all arises from gobs and gobs of guaranteed millions being thrown at NFL rookies (regardless of the recently adopted Collective Bargaining Agreement).

It certainly has not escaped the attention of these youth “mentors” the size of the bank accounts of Leigh Steinberg, Scott Boras and other mega agents in professional sports. Ten percent or more of multi-million contracts is 10 percent or more of multi-million contracts. As Cuba Gooding Jr. made his agent Tom Cruise repeatedly recite in Jerry Maguire: “Show Me the Money.”

And if a “mentor” running a “recruiting service” can befriend a precocious super stud at a young age in making a decision regarding a big name college program?…That potentially leads to a successful collegiate career…Might that grateful student-athlete then turn to this “friend” as his agent when it comes time to sign a multi-year contract and related athletic shoe endorsement deal? Can you say: “Ka-Ching?”

The issue of real agents, street agents, mentors, recruiting services, seven-on-seven sponsors, football and basketball camp coordinators or whatever the cute names for the services these individuals offer, the issue is here and now before the NCAA. Oregon and by extension LSU and Cal (which also have engaged in business relationships with Lyles…and most likely others) has specialized knowledge. Can this unique insight be put to work without endangering an institution’s legal position with the NCAA?

Obviously, Oregon needs to protect itself in proceedings undertaken by the NCAA and Pac-12 conference. That is why “The Cleaner” and his firm were hired. Having acknowledged that, the Oregon Athletic Department can be a force for good. It should be working…cooperating with the NCAA in severely restricting the access of these leaches to immature and impressionable young men. They are not in the position of deciding who should represent them as a professional agent at 17-years of age.

The NCAA should pass tough legislation directly aimed at these individuals that prey on young athletes for their own long-term gain. The member schools have a direct interest in curbing this obvious abuse that is only going to get worse if it continues unchecked. Besides cooperating with the NCAA’s request for information about Lyles, Oregon (and presumably others) should work with the NCAA to resolve this problem.

It is not only good public relations with the NCAA and the general public; it is the right thing to do as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaiSHcHM0PA

http://www2.registerguard.com/cms/index.php/duck-football/comments/report-seastrunks-family-suggests-little-influence-from-lyles-in-recruiting/

http://oregon.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1248695

http://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/index.ssf/2011/08/oregon_ducks_rundown_sunday_mo.html

http://articles.cnn.com/1997-09-29/politics/poll_1_clinton-and-gore-gops-republicans?_s=PM:ALLPOLITICS

http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1997/gen/resources/infocus/reform/index0.html

 

…when the circle-the-wagons strategy clearly is not working and your reputation and brand equity are in serious jeopardy. What are the golden rules for Crisis Communications? Tell the truth. Tell it all. Tell it fast. And say what you are going to do about it…And most of all: Don’t even think about covering it up.

As a 21-year University of Oregon football season ticket holder, a member of the Duck Athletic Fund for just as many years and now as a Graduate Teaching Fellow, pursuing a master’s degree from the UO School of Journalism and Communication, I am not exactly an unbiased and dispassionate commentator. Let’s face it: I bleed emerald-green and lemon-yellow or whatever combination of hues the Ducks are wearing sporting the Nike logo on a given Saturday…or Thursday, Friday etc.

At the same time, I have also been engaged in some very serious crisis comms activities during the course of my three-decade career in public relations most notably California’s response to the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake in San Francisco. I have dealt with more-than-my-fair share of chanting demonstrators, taunting political hacks, screaming reporters and editors to last a lifetime.

Now that I have made this necessary disclosure, I have to admit that these stories about Oregon and its relationship with Texas high-school football stud “mentor” Willie Lyles are very difficult to read particularly as both a passionate Oregon fan and as a communications choreographer.

The story of Oregon’s $25,000 payment to Lyles for recruiting services (some allege illegal contact with intensely recruited running backs LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk) refuses to settle down. It’s time to make the call: This story has legs and the submerged submarine strategy is not working, and will not work.

It was revealed last week that the Oregon Athletic Department hired renowned sports attorney Mike Glazier, otherwise known as the “Cleaner.” He and his firm, the Collegiate Sports Practice Group of Bond, Schoeneck & King, have reportedly counseled Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Florida, Missouri, Minnesota and others in dealing with NCAA investigations and probes. Oregon is paying big billable hours in the face of the Willie Lyles caper.

And obviously if you are paying that kind of money to someone who knows something about the NCAA, it makes sense to listen to him and his colleagues. Having said that, the typical advice from attorneys is usually to shut down all public communications. After all, the NCAA and Pac-12 will ultimately decide Oregon’s fate, even if the university later decides to self-impose penalties. And for a while that strategy appeared to be working. If Oregon Sports Information Director Dave Williford has nothing new to say, the story gets boring. And if the story gets duller by the minute the media goes elsewhere for news.

That changed today with the publication by Yahoo Sports of its interview with Lyles, complete with personal notes to Lyles from Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly. Lyles is contending that Oregon frantically was asking for recruiting information…any information…to justify the payment for recruiting services…not for assistance in landing four-and-five star players.

The time has come for a change in strategy and the attorney will most likely counsel to the contrary. The highly compensated cleaner and his colleagues should have their say and be part of the process, but this story is not going away. If Oregon does not talk, others will continue to talk. Oregon’s reputation and brand are in play in this social media world just like equities on the NYSE and NASDAQ and they are going downward to the right. Sometimes you reach a point when the reputation damage is permanent. Oregon is not there…yet.

The public needs to see University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere, Athletic Director Rob Mullens and Coach Kelly together on the same stage. Oregon should not be hasty in making them available, but the appearance should be sooner-as-opposed to later. They should be well prepared including “hot box” sessions with very difficult questions posed in preparation. Kelly in particular needs to be coached (coaching the Coach?) to drop the smart-aleck one-liners and to provide complete answers to these questions. This is not a sideline interview with Erin Andrews.

If the truth is that Oregon paid Lyles to deliver Seastrunk and/or James or others, the university should own up to it. Don’t even think about following in the failed cover-up footsteps of Anthony Weiner, John Edwards or Arnold Schwarzenegger…the truth will win out.

If the truth is Oregon behaved properly but has an Autzen Stadium-sized perception problem, the Big Three should calmly and carefully walk the reporters, editors, and bloggers through their side of the story. We really have not heard Oregon’s side of the story, just Nixonian blanket statements that the department has not done anything wrong.

No one wants the media to drive the story and set the agenda. That may be true, but in this case the blood is already in the water and the hungry sharks are circling. There is nothing else really happening in college football in July and this is a big story.

And it is made bigger by blogging, podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the literally the millions of computers tied together by zillions of miles of fiber-optic cable.

As Mike Riley, the head coach of Oregon’s rival about 40 miles up the road from Eugene said recently about the loss of control in this new world of social media:

“I tell our players all the time, ‘As soon as you start going down the wrong track and you start doing something wrong, the clock starts ticking until the day you are caught, because it’s going to happen’…”In our world today, you think it’s not going to be found out eventually?” Oregon State Football Coach Mike Riley

Coach Riley’s words don’t just apply to football players.

 

 

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