DA does admirable work pursuing sports-agent issue at UNC

October 10, 2013 

Jim Woodall, district attorney of Orange and Chatham counties, is now prepared to deputize three special assistant district attorneys to help him look into the state’s criminal cases against sports agents’ dealings with football players at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Two indictments, one of an agent and one of a former tutor for players, have already come down, and three more are expected.

This is a pursuit that’s certainly unpopular with UNC-Chapel Hill boosters and officials who’d like the long, painful story of an athletics-academic scandal to fade away. But Woodall believes the situation with sports agents, trying various ways to obligate college players to sign deals with them, is serious and widespread.

It’s lonely out there. In fact, Woodall’s criminal accusations, resulting from an investigation by the Secretary of State’s office, may be the first and only ones in the country. “It would be nice,” Woodall said, “if some other states get involved.”

North Carolina law requires sports agents to register with the Secretary of State and forbids benefits to players, including cash. Such benefits are what’s at issue in Woodall’s investigation and action.

Certainly college football has for years been plagued by boosters giving players “$100 handshakes” and the like. But the millions of dollars now at stake with professional contracts has raised the ante for agents who want to get a piece of the action and sign the most valuable players.

Woodall is doing a service in pursuing investigations and prosecutions that many in the college athletics behemoth nationwide would just as soon he leave alone. UNC-Chapel Hill, after all, has long been regarded as one of the “cleanest” schools when it comes to oversight, a perception that’s been altered some in the last two years.

Woodall is going to force more schools, and the weak NCAA – supposed watchdog of college athletics – to face up to some tough issues. Good work.

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