'The Committee on Infractions has been predictably unpredictable'

EUGENE, Ore. - The NCAA rejected the University of Oregon's offer of 2 years probation and the loss of a scholarship per year for 3 years, but documents have shown the governing body didn't accuse the University of a lack of institutional control.

Those goal posts frame the possible punishment for Oregon football recruiting practices.

Beyond that, only Wednesday's press conference (live blogged here on this site) will reveal Oregon football's fate for certain.

"Over the last few years the Committee on Infractions has been predictably unpredictable in terms of their decisions in these cases," said Michael Buckner, a Florida lawyer who has specialized in representing unversities before the NCAA. He most recently represented University of Miami basketball coach Frank Haith.

"They're really taking each case on a case by case basis," Buckner said. "Because they decided to hear the case instead of allowing it to be submitted through Summary Disposition, we really don't know exactly what's happening. The committee could use this decision as a means to send a message out to the rest of the NCAA membership."

The NCAA did not accuse Oregon of a lack of institutional control, which will likely limit the punishment, Buckner said.

Buckner predicts 3 years probation and increased scholarship reductions, plus more education for coaching staff.

What about a bowl ban?

"The bowl ban would be on the table if the Committee on Infractions deteremines there were ineligible student athletes who participated on behalf of Oregon in a Bowl game when they were ineligible," he said. He wasn't prepared to speculate on whether that might come into play in this case.

"The committee could be trying to send a message to the rest of the Division 1 membership, because recruiting services are becoming more and more important as the years go by, and the NCAA is finding it's going to have more and more violations related to recruiting services, so the committee could be using this as a test case," he said.

But Oregon could argue it's not fair to make them an example under a rule that wasn't previously well defined or enforced, giving grounds for an appeal, he said.