UNC receives NCAA letter outlining allegations

42 pages detail allegations

Staff WriterJune 22, 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 long awaited Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on Tuesday offering university officials a look at nine major alleged violations. Among them are a failure to monitor the program, a tutor's role in academic fraud, a former associate head coach who while on an agent's payroll attempted to sway players to sign with the agent, and the university's failure to follow up in 2009 and 2010 on tips related to improper benefits provided to a football player.

The 42-page notice is the latest step in an investigation into impermissible benefits and academic misconduct that 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 then would determine penalties, with UNC asked to appear at the committee's Oct. 28 meeting in Indianapolis.

Chancellor Holden Thorp, athletic director Dick Baddour and football coach Butch Davis were requested by the NCAA to attend the meeting.

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

"We'll go through it in absolute detail," 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."

UNC has gone almost 50 years, spanning to a point-shaving scandal with the men's basketball program in the 1950s, without incurring what the NCAA defines as a "major violation."

"I deeply regret that Carolina is in this position," 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. The university redacted a large number of names, including those of all of the players involved, from the copy of the notice that it publicly released Tuesday night.

The details of the allegations against Blake and former university tutor Jennifer Wiley had not been disclosed, nor had an outlined violation for the "university's failure to adequately monitor the football program."

The failure-to-monitor allegation specifically mentions three components:

The use of university facilities by former UNC player Chris Hawkins, identified by the NCAA as an agent.

The failure to monitor "social networking activity that visibly illustrated potential amateurism violations."

The failure to investigate in 2009 and 2010 when provided with information regarding impermissible benefits provided to players.

Baddour said those were specific allegations and not a 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 - about which both players posted information on 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 alleged 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 NFL agent Wichard, who died in March.

According to the NCAA, Blake, who was 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 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, according to the letter, the presence of Pro Tect on his credit report as a former employer.

Wiley worked as tutor for the university from 2006 to 2008 and later as a tutor for the son of 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.

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, but penalties in similar high-profile cases in football and men's basketball have included the loss of scholarships, a ban from postseason play, 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 much 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.

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

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service