Colt Lyerla leaves Ducks, arrested 17 days later for cocaine

10/23/2013: Very sad. Duck football player Colt Lyerla was suspended from the team on Oct 5 for “violating team rules”, then he announced on Oct 6 he was leaving for personal reasons. Today he was arrested by Eugene police for cocaine possession.

Did UO’s new random drug testing program detect his use? Did he get counseling and help, or did the athletic department just encourage him to leave, in an effort to save the football team potential embarrassment? Did they threaten to take away his scholarship and effectively kick him out of school? Ruin any chance of a pro career? Suggest that instead it might be best for him to leave on his own, in exchange for a supportive piece from Duck PR flack Rob Moseley, to counteract the skepticism about his draft prospects from reporters?

Last year the UO Senate and its Intercollegiate Athletics Committee came under extraordinary pressure from Athletic Director Rob Mullens, interim President Bob Berdahl, and General Counsel Randy Geller to approve a new drug testing policy, with limited public discussion. This link has more. The Oregon Administrative Rule on this, as finally adopted, is here. Page down to:

Athletic Department Substance Use and Drug Testing
Introduction and Purpose
(1) The University of Oregon has a compelling interest in prohibiting and deterring drug use by student-athletes. The University educates its student-athletes about the detrimental effects of drug use on health, safety, academic work, and careers. The University must abide by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules. Because student-athletes are viewed as University representatives, the University has an interest in promoting drug-free and healthful lifestyles to the community through its athletic program.

My read is that the rule gives the athletic department extraordinary power, not just to kick a player off the team, but to take away their financial aid, and effectively kick them out of school by taking away their scholarship. The IAC and the Senate fought this, but we lost:

(3) Illicit Substances. If the student-athlete tests positive for the use of an Illicit Substance, the sanctions will be consistent with the sanctions listed in this subsection. These sanctions define the least severe sanctions that may be taken after each positive test. Notwithstanding the sanctions outlined in this subsection, if concluded to be appropriate, a student-athlete may be dismissed from the team and lose all athletic financial aid after a single positive test.

“Concluded to be appropriate” on what grounds, and by whom? People with a financial interest in minimizing damage to the Duck brand? The pressure from Randy Geller to stifle public discussion and get the faculty to approve this policy was intense:

Dear [Senate President Rob Kyr] and [IAC Chair Brian McWhorter]:

I received your email of July 24, 2012, requesting a delay in the public hearing scheduled for August 23rd, 2012. The hearing will be rescheduled for September 13, 2012. Written comments will be accepted until noon on September 14, 2012. We will similarly postpone the date the rule will be filed with the Secretary of State and become final. The rule will be filed on September 21, 2012.

Your allegations about the University’s rulemaking processes are offensive and false , as are the comments made publicly by members of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee. I ask that you apologize in writing to President Berdahl, Rob Mullens, and me. I also ask that you censure the members of the IAC who have published offensive and defamatory comments.

Randolph Geller  

General Counsel
University of Oregon

President Gottfredson took charge the next day, and he was much more open to discussion. More on the Senate debate on this policy is at 

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33 Responses to Colt Lyerla leaves Ducks, arrested 17 days later for cocaine

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sad, any way you cut it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sad story indeed. But none of us have any reason to believe Colt was kicked off of the team. Being suspended and being kicked out are different things. Everything in the press suggests Colt was given a final ultimatum recently, and elected on his own to leave.

    • UO Matters says:

      Thanks for the clarification. I’m correcting the post.

    • Anonymous says:

      Will the IAC ask about the circumstances and a potential drug testing?

    • Anonymous says:

      They surely will. Unfortunately, the Gottfredson/Geller/AD gang is likely to say that it’s none of their business.

    • Anonymous says:

      The “Detroit Lions Draft” piece shows some red flags:
      “Drafted? Absolutely. He’s a second round talent at worst on the field. If he can piss clean (pass drug tests) … Like I said, he’s got to piss clean. (We) won’t touch him if he’s left the team and is doing drugs. No way. If he pisses clean I think he can go in the fourth or fifth round.”
      Maybe the AD made all efforts to help him but they should definitely show this to the IAC.

    • Anonymous says:

      They could show it to the IAC and it still would all remain secret.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s fine – privacy of the student – but there has to be oversight i) how such cases are handled and ii) student’s life first and not the UO brand.

    • Anonymous says:

      They hide behind “privacy of the student” and in some cases it might be accurate, but how do you guarantee oversight in a secrecy culture? You don’t … you guarantee secrecy which protects the brand. Now that UO is private, oversight is mostly something to blog about.

    • Anonymous says:

      You could ask how many drug tests were done, number of negative/positive results, and the responses in each case. All without names. It’s about the oversight on their actions and evaluation of the policies in place.

      If they had done everything, great. If not, then adjustments have to be made. I don’t believe that you can solve any case with counseling and good efforts. But everything has to be tried first.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sure, and do you expect them to admit to anyone if not everything was tried?

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t know. I have no personal experience with the AD. But I think either way you have to signal that you take charge in the oversight, question them, and respond if there are contradictions. If you do nothing, they do nothing. So at least make them aware that you watch them, report to the Senate, and hope that this pressure keeps them on their toes. Almost like journalism.

      The danger is the confidentiality demand by the AD for IAC members. This would make the IAC to comedy. Any news on this one?

    • Anonymous says:

      This is what the IAC has been doing, for the last couple years at least. They have become known as trouble makers, though. Asking questions (even soft balls) is not appreciated around these parts. Faculty are supposed to trust them and when we don’t we not seen as good team players.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe the IAC should view itself the way the AD does–as the opposing team. Better strategies and more in-depth questions might be in order. Be proud to be a so-called “troublemaker” if it gets to the truth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Any oversight authority is a “trouble maker” in the eyes of the observed agents. It would be a bad signal if the agents – who prefer to follow other paths – would appreciate their regulation.

      Keep up the work and fight the demanded confidentiality.

    • Anonymous says:

      That I didn’t know about the IAC before last year suggests that it had done nothing until last year. I’ve learned that they used to get free tickets and pal around on game days like a bunch of hangers on. Apparently the current group (or some of them) have put an end to that practice, and do ask in-depth questions. Keep that up.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why did you use this incident as a point of attack at the AD? Other instances were justified, they deserved it. But this is a young man’s life we are talking about. Why did you assume that he didn’t get all the help he needed in the program but chose not to? Sometimes you can be quite a dick.

    • Anonymous says:

      You forgot to add “waahh–waahh”.

    • UO Matters says:

      The post asks the natural question: “Did he get counseling and help, or did the athletic department just encourage him to leave, in an effort to save the football team potential embarrassment?”

      I don’t know know whether he did or did not get all the help he needed. I’d like to know. This does not make me a dick.

    • Anonymous says:

      “wahhh–waahhh.” Happy?

      I’ll grant you that the question you quote was nothing out of the ordinary. But you didn’t stop there. Your next several “questions” were basically accusations that the AD engaged in some shady deals to kick him out, which nobody has ANY evidence of. That made you a dick.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmm. Sounds like a PR flack.

    • Anonymous says:

      Right…If you don’t agree with UOM on EVERYTHING AD-related you are a PR flack. Got it. Also, the AD probably wants to fire me pretty soon since I said UOM were justified previously when he criticized them. Pretty bad PR move if you ask me!

    • Anonymous says:


  4. Anonymous says:

    Can Rob Mullens fire a coach or staffer and immediately terminate their compensation, for failing one random drug test?

  5. Anonymous says:

    For what it’s worth, this article last year by Aaron Fentress in the Oregonian reveals a lot of background. It was also reported earlier that Lyerla felt somewhat abandoned by Kelly’s departure to the Eagles. I think UOM’s questions are more than valid.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Please let this go. This is incredibly sad, both for this young man’s past and his future. Trust that there were numerous attempts to intervene and get him the support he needed. Unfortunately the things he probably needed the most – structure, support, rules, guidance – were all things that he was unable and unwilling to deal with. He has left a path of disappointments behind him, but not regrets that attempts were not made to help him. It may be that this arrest will help him finally see that what he wants — to play professionally – is only attainable if he works for it, not because of innate athletic gifts.

    • Anonymous says:

      Trust? Based on what? We have no evidence that the athletic department is worthy of trust. (Last I heard, they were trying to force a gag order on the IAC.)

      The scary thing is that it is this “let it go” attitude, along with the “that would never happen at Oregon” boosters that leads straight to boy rape. If Oregon wants to play in the big leagues, they have to step it up on all fronts. It’s bad policy to rely on the arrests in order to do well by our athletes. (I.e., don’t go there.)

    • Anonymous says:

      “Please let this go.” ?? Anytime you heard or read that in conjunction with a controversial topic, especially anonymously, odds are very high there is something significant underneath to be revealed.

    • Anonymous says:

      This comment: ” Unfortunately the things he probably needed the most – structure, support, rules, guidance – were all things that he was unable and unwilling to deal with.” doesn’t fit with the person Fentress reported on.

      Maybe UO’s method of structure, support, rules, and guidance wasn’t very good or effective enough.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Are economists any better?

    any word on what union position UOMatters is going to take?

    • Anonymous says:

      Taking home less than my market rate, I implicitly give to the UO every day. At that, if I were an economist this market differential would be more than pretty much anyone on campus.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Don’t tax athletic gifts. Tax their revenues (tickets, television, etc.) Basically have them pay overhead on all of that stuff the same way we do on grants.