Blake to face NCAA

Former Tar Heels associate head coach plans to plead his case at UNC's NCAA hearing on Friday.

ktysiac@charlotteobserver.comOctober 27, 2011 

Staff Photographer

Former associate head football coach at UNC, John Blake, has met with investigators from the state Secretary of State's office.

ROBERT WILLETT — ROBERT WILLETT-rwillett@newsobserver.com

Former North Carolina associate head coach John Blake will appear in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions on Friday in Indianapolis in an attempt to clear his name, his lawyer, Wade Smith, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Blake is named in three of the nine major violations charged in the Notice of Allegations sent by the NCAA to North Carolina in June. He stands accused of recruiting players for his friend, the late sports agent Gary Wichard.

Although Blake no longer is employed by North Carolina, the Committee on Infractions can impose a "show cause order" that could prevent him from recruiting or coaching and make him difficult for an NCAA school to employ.

Since last fall, Blake's lawyers, Smith and William Beaver, have said he did not try to convince players to sign with Wichard. Blake's first public comments on the matter appear in a story posted Wednesday on Sports Illustrated's website.

"It's important to me that they know (I'm) an honest and good man," Blake said in the story. "We all make mistakes in life. But my character, my integrity means a lot to me."

Former North Carolina coach Butch Davis, who was a coach at Sand Springs High in Oklahoma when Blake played there in the 1970s, said last fall he was sorry he trusted Blake.

The Sports Illustrated story portrays Blake as being devastated when Davis said that. Davis and Blake also coached together with the Dallas Cowboys.

"I know that John was heartbroken," Smith said, "because he absolutely admired and loved - and I think still does admire and love - Butch Davis. And it was very painful for him."

Smith, who was in Indianapolis on Wednesday, declined to comment further on the evidence Blake, who resigned as a North Carolina coach in September of 2010, will present to the Committee on Infractions.

The NCAA's Notice of Allegations accuses Blake of receiving a total of $31,500 in athletically related income from Wichard's company, Pro Tect Management, in seven payments from 2007 to 2009. Blake also is accused of refusing to provide information relevant to the NCAA's investigation and furnishing the NCAA and North Carolina with false and misleading information.

He is charged with failing to provide his tax records and information regarding a $45,000 bank deposit he received. Blake also was listed as a Pro Tect employee on a brochure distributed by the company.

Smith and Beaver have said since September of 2010 the payments from Wichard were gifts or loans to help Blake pay for private school tuition for his son.

Blake's lawyers have said he was not employed by Pro Tect, and that a Pro Tect credit card in his name was used to pay for items such as T-shirts for the "Chance to Advance" football camp he conducted when he was out of college coaching.

North Carolina officials also will appear at the Committee on Infractions hearing Friday as the school faces charges of nine major violations. The committee will hear the NCAA enforcement representatives' evidence and the arguments of the defendants, and typically issues its findings a few months after a hearing.

In September, North Carolina announced self sanctions that include two years of probation, vacating wins from the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and reducing scholarships by three in each of the next three years.

The Committee on Infractions has the power to levy additional penalties.

The investigation of impermissible benefits and academic misconduct began in June of 2010. Fourteen players missed at least one game and seven missed the entire season in 2010 as a result of the probe.

Chancellor Holden Thorp and athletics director Dick Baddour will be among the officials who represent North Carolina in front of the Committee on Infractions.

Davis, the former coach who was not personally cited in the Notice of Allegations and was fired in July, will not appear in front of the committee, his lawyer, Jon Sasser, confirmed.

Tysiac: 919-829-8942

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