NC gets notice of violations

Published 2:10 am Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Associated Press

North Carolina received a notice Tuesday of allegations from the NCAA outlining numerous violations in the football program, including unethical conduct by a former assistant coach as well as failure to adequately monitor the conduct of a former and current players.

The notice states former associate head coach John Blake provided “false and misleading information” to both NCAA investigators and the school regarding his relationship with late NFL agent Gary Wichard. That included a failure to report $31,000 in outside income from Wichard’s firm, Pro Tect Management LLC, from May 2007 to October 2009.

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The NCAA said Blake worked to steer players to Wichard once they reached the NFL. Blake’s attorneys have previously characterized the transactions as loans between friends during tough financial times.

The notice cites several occasions in which players received improper benefits. In addition, the NCAA alleged unethical conduct by former tutor Jennifer Wiley for refusing to cooperate with the investigation and providing extra benefits of travel, parking expenses and free tutoring.

The school was also cited for failing to monitor “social media activity” of the team in 2010 as well as the conduct of former player Chris Hawkins. Hawkins was previously connected to trips to Atlanta and Las Vegas made by cornerback Kendric Burney, and also paid $1,000 for the jersey of Georgia’s A.J. Green — a transaction that resulted in Green’s four-game suspension because the NCAA said Hawkins qualified as an agent.

The school has 90 days to respond to the notice and is scheduled to appear before the NCAA infractions committee in Indianapolis on Oct. 28.

“I deeply regret that Carolina is in this position,” chancellor Holden Thorp said in a statement. “We made mistakes, and we have to face that. … We will emerge with a stronger athletics program, and we will restore confidence in Carolina football.”

William H. Beaver and Wade Smith, attorneys for Blake, declined to comment Tuesday night because they had yet to read the notice of allegations. Joseph B. Cheshire, an attorney for Wiley, also declined to comment.

The NCAA first visited the Chapel Hill campus last summer as it began its investigation, which started after former defensive tackle Marvin Austin tweeted about a trip to Miami. While the initial focus was improper benefits, the investigation later expanded to include academic violations involving Wiley, who refused to be interviewed and has since graduated.

The notice comes two weeks after the NCAA said it planned to complete the investigation this month in a belated “notice of inquiry,” a procedural step that stands as a formal notification of an investigation into a sports program.

Fourteen players missed at least one game last season due to the investigation. Seven were ruled out for the entire year, while an eighth was cleared at midseason but decided to redshirt.

Wichard died in March from diabetes and pancreatic cancer. Less than two weeks earlier, investigators with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s offices issued a search warrant for financial records connected to Wichard and Pro Tect as part of a separate probe into whether the state’s sports agent laws were broken.

Blake resigned in September, the day after the Tar Heels lost to LSU in the season opener.