Yesterday ESPN.com’s Joe Schad broke a story that the NCAA is investigating the University of North Carolina football program regarding possible rules violations surrounding gifts/benefits received by players from sports agents.
As I discuss in my paper, Duties of Sports Agents to Athletes and Statutory Regulations Thereof, SPARTA (the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act) binds sports agents to a certain code of conduct regarding the recruiting and signing of student-athletes. Section 7802(a)(1)(B) prohibits a sports agent from giving anything of value to a student-athlete or anyone associated with him, until the student-athlete has signed an agency contract. Signing an agency contract voids any remaining NCAA eligibility that athlete had, anyway. Sometimes, discovery of these gifts do not occur until after the athlete has used up all of his eligibility. Sports agents may still face penalties under SPARTA once the athlete is no longer a student.
Then there is the Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA). The UAAA also prohibits the “buying” of a student-athlete. If a sports agent gives any item of value to a student-athlete for the purpose of having that athlete sign an agency contract, the result may be criminal or civil penalties against the agent. North Carolina is one of the 38 states that have adopted a form of the UAAA.
So when Joe Schad tells the world that there is a serious NCAA investigation taking place at UNC, sports agents who may be affected should begin to contact their attorneys. Schad notes that Defensive tackle Marvin Austin was a football player who was interviewed. I have a source who tells me that Austin was only 1 of 13 players who have been interviewed – this is far reaching. And it does not only extend to a number of players. The same source tells me that there are a lot of agents that may have dirty hands, including both NFLPA Certified Advisors and marketing agents. Some are being examined more than others.
It is apparently beyond just in-person meetings, rent payments, and travel expenses. We are potentially talking about all expenses paid trips to South Beach, exorbitant amounts of money dropped on accessories, and there are rumors of players driving around in Bentleys.
UNC’s football program has miraculously gone from the laughingstock of the ACC to a respectable team in a small number of years. A lot of the credit for the team’s rise lies with John Blake, UNC’s associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach. He is one of the best in the country in recruiting talented high school football players and getting them prepared for a prosperous future in the NFL. He also has had some former players sign with Pro Tect Management’s Gary Wichard, including Brian Bosworth and Kentwan Balmer. Sporting News reports that Marvin Austin was reportedly seen driving Balmer’s car and stayed at Balmer’s Chapel Hill apartment at times while Balmer was back in the area training during the offseason. And Bosworth is suing Wichard over $2 million based on referring Bosworth to a financial advisor (Judd Rothman of Rothman & Rothman in Patchogue, NY) who Wichard supposedly knew had engaged in fraudulent activity in the past.
I also am told that Greg Williams of VSM has a nice relationship with UNC saftey Duenta Williams.