NCAA alleges 9 violations in letter to UNC

Staff writerJune 21, 2011 

Staff Photographer

John Blake, left, stands alongside UNC coach Butch Davis in the game against LSU in Atlanta.

ROBERT WILLETT — ROBERT WILLETT-rwillett@newsobserver.com

— The University of North Carolina's football program received the Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on Tuesday which detailed nine major violations, including a failure to adequately monitor the program.

The 42-page notice is the latest step in an investigation into impermissible benefits and academic misconduct which began a year ago and cost UNC 14 players for at least one game and seven for the entire 2010 football season.

UNC has 90 days to respond to the NCAA's notice. After the school's response, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions will rule on whether violations occurred and determine the penalties, with UNC asked to appear at the committee's Oct. 28 meeting in Indianapolis.

UNC has gone 50 years, spanning back to a point-shaving scandal with the men's basketball program in 1961, without incurring what the NCAA defines as a "major violation."

“I deeply regret that Carolina is in this position," UNC chancellor Holden Thorp said in a statement released by the school. "We made mistakes, and we have to face that."

The NCAA, or UNC, had ruled on 13 of the players before the release of Tuesday's notice, which the university redacted a large number of names, including all of the players involved.

The details of the allegations against former assistant coach John Blake and former university tutor Jennifer Wiley had not been disclosed. Nor had a violation for the "university's failure to adequately monitor the football program."

The failure to monitor allegation specifically mentions three components: 1) former player Chris Hawkins' use of university facilities; 2) the failure to monitor "social networking activity that visibly illustrated potential amateurism violations" and 3) the failure to investigate when provided with information regarding impermissible benefits provided to players.

UNC athletic director Dick Baddour said those were specific allegations and not broad brush by the NCAA condemning the athletic department for a failure to monitor.

Trips to Miami and Washington by Marvin Austin and Greg Little in May 2010 — which both players posted information about on their Twitter accounts — triggered the initial investigation. The NCAA first called UNC about the investigation on June 21 and proceeded with on-campus interviews on July 12.

According to the notice, seven players received more than $27,000 in impermissible benefits.

The NCAA connected three of the nine violations to Blake, who resigned on Sept. 5, one day after UNC's season-opening loss to LSU. The allegations against Blake center on his relationship with Wichard, who died in March.

According to the NCAA, Blake, who was head coach Butch Davis' top recruiter, "marketed athletic abilities of student-athletes to agent Gary Wichard." Blake also failed to report $31,000 in outside income from Wichard's agency.

The NCAA alleges that Blake acted as what is known as a "runner" on behalf of Wichard, steering players to him for representation: "Specifically, Blake was employed and compensated by Pro Tect Management to influence football student-athletes to hire Wichard to represent them," the letter states.

Blake also committed alleged violations in providing "false and misleading information" to NCAA investigators. This includes his denial that he ever worked for Pro Tect Management despite the existence of a sales brochure touting his involvement and, according to the letter, the presence of Pro Tect on his credit report as a former employer.

Wiley, who worked as tutor for the university from 2006 to 2008 and later as a tutor for the son of head coach Butch Davis. The notice ties three allegations to Wiley: two for impermissible academic help and monetary benefits and one for failing to cooperate with the NCAA.

According to the NCAA notice, Wiley provided $150 to a player for an airline ticket and paid $1,789 in parking violations.

Tuesday's notice did not include any possible punishment for the violations. The NCAA has said that each case is different and there are no standard guidelines for punishment, but penalties in similar high-profile cases in football and men's basketball have included the loss of scholarships, a ban from post-season, forfeiture of games involving the use of ineligible players and a suspension for the head coach, in the recent case of Connecticut's men's basketball team.

The pace of the investigation has accelerated in the past month after stagnating for the better part of the past seven months. The school received a notice of inquiry from the NCAA on June 7, which was essentially a precursor to Tuesday's letter of allegations.

Baddour said the next step for UNC is to prepare its response.

"We'll go through it in absolute detail and prepare our response," Baddour said. "Then we'll make decisions about what we agree with and what we don't agree with and how we're going to move forward."

jp.giglio@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8938

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