The Fire May Burn Gary Wichard
Maybe I jinxed the guy. I legitimately believed he was on freaking fire when I heard that he was not only representing C.J. Spiller, who I thought was the best running back in college football last year, but also Jimmy Clausen, Arrelious Benn, Taylor Mays, and Everson Griffen, all in one draft. Sometimes things are too good to be true. And if Gary Wichard is not able to overcome some pretty damning evidence, it looks as if the fire is going to burn down his house of cards.
All it took was enough of an incentive for the great investigators at Yahoo! Sports to get to work. After months of speculation regarding Gary Wichard’s ties to UNC, and in particular, Marvin Austin (UNC defensive tackle) and John Blake (former UNC assistant football coach), Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports found the gold. Not only has Blake been listed on Wichard’s company brochure as vice president of football operations in the past, but Austin has stayed at a hotel in California under his own name along with Wichard’s company name, Pro Tect Management. Does it not seem that Wichard had to be involved in Austin’s trip to California? How else would Pro Tect Management’s name appear on the hotel receipt? Wichard’s attorney says that Kentwan Balmer, a Wichard client, paid for Austin’s hotel room. But it still doesn’t explain why Pro Tect Management was listed instead of Balmer’s name.
And then there are the 6 wire transfers to Blake, $45,000 personal loan to Blake, and Pro Tect Management credit card issued in Blake’s name. It is one thing to say something favorable about a friend pro bono. It is another thing to give someone a massive amount of money and a corporate credit card because he happens to know you for a while…even if it was supposedly to help fund a football camp for Blake while Blake was between coaching jobs.
I am more interested in the State of North Carolina’s reaction to this news than the NFLPA’s response. The NFLPA is already stalling by saying that the NCAA will not turn over any evidence of wrongdoing involving NFL agents. The government can conduct its own investigation and do its own discovery. And under oath, I would hope that the parties involved tell the truth for their own sake. Gary Wichard will speak with investigators from the NC Secretary of State’s office this week.
I cannot see the NFLPA being anything other than very reactionary in this matter, and not necessarily to their fault. Even though its Committee on Agent Regulations and Discipline (CARD) says it will meet to consider the case against Wichard and other agents, a punishment will probably not come until any government-led discovery is made public, and possibly after the culmination of a trial against interested parties. If any agent receives jail time, it will likely be a sentence of less than a year. If there is a sentence, the NFLPA will probably ban the agent from being licensed for at least 2 years, and possibly for an indefinite period. I am merely speculating at this point, however.
Additionally, I think we might see the Federal Trade Commission get involved for the first time since the passage of the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act (SPARTA).