Attorneys confirm payments from Wichard to former UNC coach

From staff reportsSeptember 30, 2010 

The attorneys for John Blake confirmed Thursday that the former associate head coach for North Carolina's football team received payments from sports agent Gary Wichard while Blake worked for UNC.

In a conference call with the News & Observer, Charlotte Observer and the Associated Press on Thursday, William Beaver and Wade Smith, Blake's attorneys, declined to provide details about how many payments Blake received or for how much money.

The attorneys characterized the transactions as loans between friends. They described Blake and Wichard, whose relationship dates back 25 years, as "dear friends," almost "like brothers."

Blake served as UNC's associate head coach and recruiting coordinator from Jan. 2007 until Sept. 5, when he resigned one game into the Tar Heels' 2010 season.

Blake's lawyers said the payments ended around the time Blake began coaching at UNC.

The NCAA is investigating the UNC program for agent-related violations, including if Blake steered players to sign with Wichard. Former UNC defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer, a first-round pick in 2008, is one of Wichard's clients.

Smith said Blake, who coached Balmer for one season, has not recruited clients for Wichard.

"No one ever said to us that he sent any athlete to Gary Wichard and certainly no one would say that he got anything from Gary Wichard in return," Smith said.

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