Ex-tutor paid for players' travel

UNC sets value at $2,000 in '10

Staff WritersNovember 12, 2010 

The former tutor associated with the NCAA's investigation into academic misconduct in the UNC-Chapel Hill football program also improperly paid for more than $2,000 worth of travel and transportation for Tar Heel players this year, according to a university letter cutting ties with her.

Jennifer L. Wiley, the former tutor, also provided impermissible academic assistance to some of the school's student-athletes in 2009 and 2010, according to the disassociation letter, which the school released to the media Thursday. The letter says that as a result of Wiley's actions, the eligibility of several athletes has been "adversely affected."

In a statement released Thursday night by Wiley's attorney, Joseph B. Cheshire V, Wiley acknowledged her role in the investigation of the UNC football program.

"She gave several years of her life trying to uplift, educate and enhance the lives of student-athletes that she worked with and befriended," Cheshire said in the statement. "All of these young men were of the highest caliber. She did not intend for her work to 'provide impermissible academic assistance' and to the extent it did, she is deeply saddened, particularly as it has affected the young men she cared so much about."

In addition, UNC said Thursday that at least three former UNC football players and two other individuals provided more than $5,600 in improper benefits to North Carolina players.

In the investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct, 14 UNC football players have been withheld from at least one game this season. Six - including standouts Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin, Greg Little and Charles Brown - have not played a single snap and are out for the season.

Six have returned to the field, but the status of two - fullback Devon Ramsay and defensive lineman Michael McAdoo - remains uncertain.

Wiley's connections to the UNC football program extended beyond tutoring players. She also tutored the son of head football coach Butch Davis from December 2008 to May of this year. In an e-mail message last week, Davis acknowledged that "after we hired her as a tutor and developed trust in her, there were occasions before [Davis' son] had his driver's license when she would drive him when we needed help."

Since the investigation began, UNC officials have acknowledged it was not a good idea for a tutor/mentor to be working for both the school and a coach. In July 2009, UNC's academic support program chose not to renew her contract when it discovered she had become too close to certain UNC football players.

Asked in October whether it was appropriate for Davis to use a tutor who also worked with his players, chancellor Holden Thorp said, "No."

Wiley is a kindergarten teacher in Durham. She was hired to teach at the school in August 2009.

Efforts to reach Durham schools officials were unsuccessful Thursday, but the school board's chairwoman has previously said she saw no reason to be concerned about allegations of academic misconduct involving a teacher because it occurred elsewhere.

Ex-tutor not cooperating

UNC officials said on Thursday that Wiley has declined requests for interview by the NCAA and UNC, repeating earlier statements that the tutor involved has not cooperated in the investigation.

UNC officials would not provide any other details about what Wiley did, including what type of travel they believe Wiley provided or to whom.

In his statement, Cheshire said that Wiley allowed one individual to use her credit card when the use of a credit card was required.

"As a bank deposit would show, she was immediately repaid for the cost applied to her card. Ms. Wiley never knew this type of transaction was impermissible," Cheshire said.

Wiley is paid $34,233.75 a year, according to the Durham Public Schools system.

The release of the disassociation letter, which was dated Nov. 5 and signed by Athletic Director Dick Baddour, marked the first time the university had mentioned Wiley by name, although she had previously been identified in media reports.

"Disassociation" from the program means that the school will not accept any assistance from Wiley or permit prospective or enrolled athletes to have contact with her. She is banned from campus athletic facilities, unless she is attending events to which she has purchased tickets available to the general public.

Wiley, formerly of Matthews, is the third person whose disassociation letter from UNC has been released to the media in connection with the investigation. UNC also has sent disassociation letters to former UNC football player Chris Hawkins, who's been labeled an agent by the NCAA, and Miami jeweler A.J. Machado, who provided diamond jewelry that, according to the university, led to a UNC football player's banishment from college sports.

UNC also released a document providing additional details of impermissible benefits in the investigation. Player reinstatement requests sent by the university to the NCAA indicate that impermissible gifts, including cash, jewelry and travel and entertainment expenses, were provided to football players by:

Former UNC player Hakeem Nicks ($3,300). Nicks' agent, Peter Schaffer, said late Thursday he was unaware his client was identified in the probe as providing impermissible benefits, and said he couldn't comment immediately. Nicks is a wide receiver for the New York Giants.

Former UNC player Omar Brown ($1,865).

Former UNC player Mahlon Carey ($140).

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis ($20).

A person from Miami whose full name is not known to the university ($323).

The amount of those benefits includes the estimated value of lodging provided by those former players in their home, UNC reported. The UNC players repaid some of it before they or their hosts knew that the benefits violated NCAA rules, according to UNC.

The school reported that there is no evidence that links former Tar Heel players Nicks, Brown and Carey to inappropriate relationships with agents, prospective agents or "runners" for agents.

UNC had previously released documentation showing that impermissible benefits have been provided to players by Hawkins, Machado, Rosenhaus Sports agency employee Michael Katz, and Todd Stewart, who is identified as a prospective agent.

In releasing the information related to impermissible benefits Thursday, UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp acknowledged the interest that media and the public have in the investigation.

UNC's refusal to release certain information led to a lawsuit filed Oct. 28 in Orange County Superior Court by The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and other media companies seeking public records the school has claimed are protected. UNC has stated that a federal student privacy law prohibits the release of certain information.

The information the media are seeking includes:

Phone numbers from bills of telephones issued to and used by Baddour, coach Butch Davis, and former associate head coach John Blake.

Names, employment dates and salaries of all individuals employed as tutors and/or mentors for UNC athletes since January 2007, including any documents mentioning Wiley.

Any parking tickets issued by UNC to 11 players.

The university's release Thursday did not include any of the parking violations but said the university has reviewed parking tickets for the players and determined that each car receiving a ticket was registered either to the student, a parent or a fellow student.

ktysiac@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8942

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