UNC severs ties with Austin, Little, Quinn

acarter@newsobserver.comNovember 19, 2013 

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Marvin Austin (9), right, and fellow defensive lineman Robert Quinn (42) are introduced to the North Carolina fans during the annual "Meet the Heels" day in 2010.

ROBERT WILLETT — 2010 NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

The University of North Carolina has sent letters of permanent disassociation to former football players Marvin Austin, Greg Little and Robert Quinn, athletic director Bubba Cunningham confirmed late Tuesday night.

Austin, Little and Quinn were at the center of an impermissible benefits scandal that erupted in 2010 and led to NCAA sanctions against the UNC football program, including a postseason ban that last season kept the Tar Heels out of a bowl game and the ACC championship game.

The Associated Press, which obtained copies of the letters, reported on Tuesday that Austin, Little and Quinn are prohibited from contacting current North Carolina athletes and that the three former players are not allowed inside the Kenan Football Center or other athletic facilities on campus.

Austin, Little and Quinn missed the 2010 season and the NCAA ruled them permanently ineligible after determining they had received a wide range of impermissible benefits, including cash and travel accommodations. Austin’s post on Twitter in the summer of 2010 about partying in Miami spurred the NCAA investigation.

By the end of the investigation, which expanded to include academic fraud, former coach Butch Davis had been fired. The scandal also hastened the retirement of Dick Baddour, the former athletic director, and former chancellor Holden Throp left the university in June.

Austin, Little and Quinn are also at the center of a North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation probe into sports agents and violations of the state’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act. The state has indicted five people in the case, which alleges that agents illegally attempted to induce Austin, Little and Quinn with cash and other benefits.

Documents from the SBI investigation that have recently become public paint a vivid picture of how agents attempt to recruit high-profile college athletes with illegal gifts, including cash. Terry Watson, a sports agent from Georgia, is accused of sending thousands of dollars through the mail to Little, for instance.

UNC also sent letters of disassociation to Watson and three others who have been indicted in the state’s agent investigation. In addition to Watson, UNC also sent letters to Patrick Jones, an associate of Watson; Willie Barley, who works for Watson; and Michael Johnson, a former N.C. Central quarterback who now works at Rosenhaus Sports Representation.

Jennifer Wiley Thompson, a former UNC tutor who was at the center of the NCAA’s investigation into academic fraud within the football program, had already received a letter of disassociation. Thompson has also been indicted in the agents case for allegedly serving as an intermediary between Watson and Little.

In the letters that UNC sent to Austin, Little and Quinn, the university wrote that the purpose of the permanent disassociation is to preclude them from “further embarrassing” the university, the Associated Press reported.

Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter

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