Texas A&M officials said today that no one currently in the Aggies’ athletics department knows anything about a reported $80,000 asking price from a recruiting service operator to deliver cornerback Patrick Peterson, the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award winner, to the Aggies out of high school.
Peterson signed with LSU and is considered the top cornerback available in April’s NFL Draft. In an ESPN interview, former A&M assistant coach Van Malone _ now working at Tulsa _ said he was contacted by recruiting service operator Willie Lyles after Peterson’s visit to A&M in 2007. Malone said Lyles told him that other schools were willing to pay $80,000 to secure Peterson’s signature on a letter of intent. Malone said he told Lyles that A&M did not pay for players.
A&M spokesman Alan Cannon said he talked earlier today with Aggies’ athletics director Bill Byrne and that school officials researched the possibility of a relationship with Lyles’ recruiting service dating back as far as the start of the Dennis Franchione era, which began in December, 2002. Cannon said no evidence was found and A&M officials consider this “a non-issue.”
“No one currently in the Texas A&M athletics department was aware of any conversations between former assistant coach Van Malone and Willie Lyles regarding payments to secure prospective players,” Cannon said. “Our business records show no financial relationship with Willie Lyles or his recruiting services. We consider this a non-issue from Texas A&M’s standpoint.”
But the issue of street agents is becoming a major concern in college football, as evidenced by recent reports alleging street-agent involvement in dealings with players at Auburn and Oregon, the two schools that played in the BCS National Championship Game in January.
During a recent news conference at the start of Oklahoma’s spring football workouts, Sooners’ coach Bob Stoops called the street-agent situation in college football “unfortunate” and declared it something he hopes administrators “can get ahold of … before it’s too late.”
“It’s unfortunate,” Stoops said of the proliferation of street agents. “Each year, it increases. In other years, we thought, ‘It’s not that bad.’ But it’s getting to be more of a big deal. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people that are influencing these guys’ choices that don’t always have their best choices at heart ... We haven’t been (using scouting services). We prefer to talk to parents, guardians and their head coaches and assistant coaches.”
_ Jimmy Burch