Oregon was dealt NCAA sanctions on Wednesday that amounted to a slap on the wrist, but it seems fear of a much harsher penalty may have led to Chip Kelly's jump to the NFL.
The head coach of the Oregon Ducks, who led the team to three straight conference titles and a win in the 2012 Rose Bowl, left after the 2012 season to coach the Philadelphia Eagles. For the last two years with the Ducks, Kelly and the program were under investigation for its use of scouting services, with allegations that a prospect was given cash and free lodging by Complete Scouting Service director Will Lyles.
Many had expected the NCAA to come down hard on the Ducks, leading to speculation that Chip Kelly would leave for the NFL rather than stick around for the harsh consequences. They turned out to be half right.
While Kelly did take one of the many NFL offers he was given, the Oregon NCAA sanctions would not be described as harsh. The program loses one scholarship for each of the next two years, has a ban on recruiting services, a reduction of evaluation days, a disassociation with the recruiting service provider, and a three-year probationary period.
Chip Kelly received an 18-month show-cause order, meaning any college that tries to hire Kelly must meet with an infractions committee before bringing him in. That likely won't matter, as long as Kelly can keep his position with the Eagles.
On Wednesday, Kelly struck a note of contrition.
“Now that the NCAA has concluded their investigation and penalized the University of Oregon and its football program, I want to apologize to the University of Oregon, all of its current and former players and their fans,” Kelly said in a statement. “I accept my share of responsibility for the actions that led to the penalties.”
Chip Kelly also maintained that the prospect of Oregon NCAA sanctions did not affect his decision to leave the college and take over coaching the Eagles.