State wants NCAA information on UNC probe

Marshall wants a court to order the NCAA to turn over the information.

ktysiac@charlotteobserver.com, acurliss@newsobserver.comOctober 14, 2011 

N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall's office is seeking an order from a Wake County judge to force the NCAA to turn over information about its probe of UNC-Chapel Hill athletics.

According to the Wake Superior Court filing, the NCAA has refused to provide documents that the Secretary of State's Office wants to review as part of its ongoing investigation into agent-related conduct affecting the UNC-CH football program.

Marshall's office enforces agent laws in North Carolina and issued a subpoena to the NCAA in late July seeking information about the NCAA probe, which has led to the firing of Tar Heels head football coach Butch Davis and allegations of nine major violations within the UNC-CH athletic program.

The court filing says Marshall's office and NCAA lawyers spoke last month and could not resolve a dispute about the records. Among the records being sought are documents relating to former UNC-CH associate head coach John Blake, who resigned amid questions about his ties to deceased sports agent Gary Wichard.

A hearing has been set for Nov. 28 in Wake County Superior Court.

"Our detailed application to the Superior Court speaks for itself," Marshall said in a statement Thursday, declining further comment.

Efforts to obtain comment from the NCAA for this story were not immediately successful.

Marshall's office is conducting an investigation of possible violations of the state's version of the Uniform Athlete Agent Act in connection with UNC-CH football players who received impermissible benefits in the case.

The law requires agents to register with the state and prohibits them from giving anything of value to student-athletes in order to prevent them from jeopardizing their eligibility. Violating the law is a Class I felony.

The allegations

A Notice of Allegations that the NCAA delivered to UNC-CH in June says that football players received impermissible benefits totaling $27,097.38. Many of those benefits came from individuals identified by the NCAA as agents. In March, the secretary of state subpoenaed Bank of America to get Wichard's bank records.

According to the Notice of Allegations, Wichard provided more than $5,000 in impermissible benefits and had Blake working to recruit clients for him. Ten days after the secretary of state subpoenaed Wichard's records, Wichard died of cancer.

In the Wake County court filing, the Secretary of State's Office complains that the NCAA petitioned for states to pass the UAAA but now fails to comply with its mandates.

In a letter Aug. 11 to the secretary of state, Winston-Salem lawyer William K. Davis, representing the NCAA, responded to the subpoena by saying the secretary of state cannot compel a nonparty, nonresident, unincorporated association to appear in North Carolina to testify or to produce documents that are located in Indiana.

The Secretary of State's Office is requesting an unredacted copy of the Notice of Allegations and all statements made in interviews with Blake, other coaches, players, former Nebraska assistant coach Marvin Sanders, and Todd Stewart, a friend of former UNC-CH player Marvin Austin. The secretary of state also is requesting a copy of Blake's credit report.

Appearance Oct. 28

UNC-CH officials are scheduled to appear Oct. 28 in front of the Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis to answer charges of nine major violations in the school's football program. The NCAA investigation of impermissible benefits and academic misconduct began in June 2010.

Fourteen Tar Heels players missed at least one game and seven missed the entire season in 2010 as a result of the investigation. UNC-CH has self-imposed penalties including two years of probation, vacating wins from 2008 and 2009, and reducing scholarships by three for the next three seasons.

The Committee on Infractions will decide whether UNC-CH will receive additional penalties.

Tysiac: 919-829-8942

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