UNC and the NCAA would not reveal on Monday who provided benefits to UNC players Greg Little, Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin, even as coaches here and across the country criticize, in broad terms, the influence of agents on college players.
UNC-Chapel Hill and the NCAA said the players broke rules about receiving agent benefits. On Monday, Austin was dismissed from the team by UNC and the NCAA ruled Little and Quinn forever ineligible to play college football.
Alabama coach Nick Saban has called agents "pimps." One of his players, Marcell Dareus, was sanctioned this season for receiving improper agent benefits related to two trips to Miami.
Austin, Little and Quinn were also sanctioned, in part, for taking trips to Miami.
UNC-CH head coach Butch Davis has said agents make life difficult for coaches.
But a spokeswoman for the NCAA said the organization doesn't have oversight of agents and will remain silent on that aspect of the investigation.
"NCAA decisions are regarding those our rules have jurisdiction over," NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said.
She referred other questions to UNC-CH.
Neither Athletic Director Dick Baddour nor Chancellor Holden Thorp would name names.
Baddour said he couldn't even say how many people were involved in giving improper benefits to players.
"It's so varied I'm not prepared to speak off the cuff on that," he said.
Asked whether it was safe to say that multiple agents are involved, he also hesitated and said he wasn't sure how to answer.
"You kind of get wrapped up in who's an agent, who's not an agent, who was representing someone - was it a friend or whatever," he said. "You should think about it in terms of agents, but you also have to think of it in terms of extra benefits and preferential treatment and all of that when you're accumulating the dollars involved."
The phrases "extra benefits" and "preferential treatment" generally refer to NCAA rules against athletes receiving any special arrangements from university employees, boosters or others, including former players. The university has previously said, for example, that a tutor who was an employee had been too close with players.
The NCAA blasted Little and Quinn on Monday, saying they didn't tell the truth about taking a combined $10,000 in trips, jewelry and more.
Separately, UNC said star player Austin also took benefits, worth at least $10,000.
The N.C. Secretary of State's office is investigating possible violations of the state's uniform athlete agent act, which requires agents to register and prohibits agents from giving anything of value to student-athletes before they sign a contract and from making false representations to athletes and their families.
Baddour said there is no evidence the athletes had committed to any agent for representation.
Baddour also said there is no evidence that the gifts or benefits to the players were tied to former associate head coach John Blake, who resigned last month as the university learned that he had been receiving money from sports agent Gary Wichard. Blake and Wichard say the money was loans to Blake or was gifts to cover private school tuition for Blake's son, and that they have a long relationship in which they consider each other like brothers.
In an e-mail message late Monday, UNC-CH spokeswoman Nancy Davis said that records about who gave the benefits are part of each student's education record.
"We determined," she wrote, "that there were multiple occasions of the student-athletes receiving benefits - for example, trips, meals and gifts - from people who include agents, prospective agents and financial advisers."
But she wouldn't say who those people are.
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