Before his Twitter account went dark, UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin posted more than 2,400 updates and built up a following of more than 1,800 people.
The online account provided a social outlet for UNCs gregarious football star, but his Twitter feed has been disabled since news broke Thursday of an NCAA inquiry into the Tar Heels football program. However, a cached version of Austins account, ANCHORMANAUSTIN, still exists on Google, with 36 pages of past posts and pictures.
Austins Twitter posts offer a glimpse of his life off the field. However, it is not clear whether NCAA investigators were aware of Austins Twitter account before they started looking into UNCs football program, nor is it clear that his past posts have drawn their interest since then.
The News & Observer and Charlotte Observer have confirmed that Austin was interviewed as part of an investigation into possible improper contact with sports agents. Tar Heels receiver Greg Little also was interviewed by the NCAA, his father said Tuesday.
A 6-3, 305-pounds, Austin is a space-eating defensive tackle with an outgoing personality to match his oversized frame. Hes constantly talking, both on and off the field. Austin is one of at least 25 UNC football players with online accounts with Twitter, a social media site that allows users 140 characters to express themselves. Users can also post pictures ANCHORMANAUSTIN featured at least 100 as well as videos.
Austins Twitter account was part diary, part personal message board for trash talk. Austin provided insight on everything in his life from the big (his decision to return to Chapel Hill for his senior season) to the small (his blood pressure reading). Austin also used it as a forum to talk about trips to Washington, D.C. (his hometown) and Miami and his penchant for shopping sprees.
Jus got to DC an [sic] Im feeln [sic] a shopn [sic] spree nobody gon [sic] be fresh as ME!!! Austin tweeted on April 23.
In a May 8 Twitter post, ANCHORMANAUSTIN wrote, Tables, bottles,beatiful [sic] people!!!!!! LIVE .
In the past four months, Austin posted pictures of a watch for his younger sister, a bag from an upscale sunglass store in Miami and a $143 bill from The Cheesecake Factory in Washington, D.C.
Earlier this year, between Feb. 25 and March 8 (the exact date was not available on Google), Austin lamented his lack of income.
Im [sic] so tired of being broke somebody make it rain where is packman [sic] jones when u need em, the ANCHORMANAUSTIN post said.
(Make it rain is a euphemism for throwing money, typically single $1 bills, at dancers in an exotic club, a maneuver made notorious by former NFL player Adam Pacman Jones.)
The NCAA has been cracking down on illegal agent activity since announcing the punishment of the University of Southern California in early June, after it was determined that former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush received improper benefits from an agent.
Austin could have left for the NFL after his junior season at UNC, which featured a career-best 42 tackles and four sacks. Given a second-round grade by the NFLs underclassmen advisory committee, he could have entered the draft and expected to receive a signing bonus of at least $900,000.
He chose instead to return for his senior season, which is now in jeopardy if the NCAA finds he received improper benefits from an sports agent.
Austin referenced money when he announced his decision return to UNC on Twitter on Jan. 1.
yea I could go get paid but in some things it aint all about the money I love carolina point blank! he tweeted on New Years Day.
The school sent out an official announcement three days later that a group of talented juniors with pro potential Austin, Little, Deunta Williams, Kendric Burney, Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant were all returning for the 2010 season.
Kevin Best, the university spokesman for the UNC football team, declined to make Austin, or anyone from the football program, available for comment and referred all questions Tuesday to athletic director Dick Baddour.
Baddour declined to comment.
Tar Heels coach Butch Davis has not spoken publicly on the matter yet but is scheduled to make a public appearance Thursday in Durham at the Pigskin Preview, an annual luncheon that brings together area Division I football coaches to talk about the upcoming season.
The closest that anyone affiliated with UNC has come to publicly discussing the investigation in recent days occurred on the Twitter account of UNC quarterback T.J. Yates. Monday night on his account, Yates made a joking reference to the NCAA investigation of his team. Posting an update about a recent golf lesson he had, Yates ended the tweet with, dont [sic] worry NCAA its [sic] ok weve got a prior relationship.
Citing unnamed sources, ESPN has reported that NCAA investigators are trying to determined who paid the transportation and lodging costs, among other expenses, for Austin, Little, South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders and other players to attend an agents party in Miamis South Beach earlier this summer.
Little and Saunders, whose father Barry Saunders is a metro columnist for The News & Observer, are both from Durham.
In a May 29 Twitter post that went up at 3:07 a.m., Austin wrote, I live In club LIV so I get the tenant rate. bottles comin [sic] like its giveaway, a reference to a 30,000-square night club at Miami Beach and champagne bottles.
The post, however, is a direct quote from Sweet Life a song by rap artist Rick Ross.
Greg Little, Sr. said Tuesday that he did not know if NCAA investigators had asked his son about a Miami trip. He said his son and Austin took a spring break trip to Miami in March.
I gave him money for all of his expenses, Greg Little Sr. said.
Barry Saunders said Tuesday his son also was in Miami for spring break in March but added that his son did not travel with Austin and Little.
The athletic departments policy concerning the use of Twitter and social media is that the players are responsible for what they post, the same way as if theyd said it at a press conference, UNC spokesman Steve Kirschner said.
Last month, three UNC basketball players sophomores Dexter Strickland and John Henson and junior Larry Drew II posted messages on their Twitter accounts suggesting that a Tar Heels coach told them they needed to tone down their Twitter messages because they were offending people.
They told me I gotta watch wat I say... so Im sry if any of my tweets offended anybody that follows me.. Strickland posted on June 1.
Austin often peppered his posts with profanity but typically tailored his good-natured comments with a humorous touch.
Many of the posts were directed at other UNC football players on Twitter, including Little and Michael McAdoo, as well as toward other college football players, including Saunders.
Little, Sr. said he has warned his son, who recently disabled his Twitter account, about sharing too much information online. Little had more than 1,400 followers and posted more than 1,700 updates on his account before taking it down.
Ive told him that a million times. You cant put everything youre thinking and everything youre doing out there, Little, Sr. said.
One of Austins final missives on Twitter, on July 7, was an ambiguous reference to the end of his college career.
I freakn [sic] love chapel hill I grind for that reason alone its [sic] gone [sic] be a SAD day when I have to depart so imma [sic] enjoy everyday I get here!!!
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