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UNC football probe continues

July 15, 2010 9:00:00 PM PDT
UNC Chapel Hill's football program is currently under investigation by the NCAA, because of possible rule violations.ESPN National College Football Writer, Joe Schad, tells ABC11 Eyewitness News the ramifications from the NCAA investigation could be disastrous.

"The number of people who have been swarming around Chapel Hill makes this serious, and the ramifications are potentially disastrous," Schad said. "It's not a unique investigation, but it is bad news for North Carolina when you consider the NCAA has interviewed a handful of players."

He says NCAA investigators have talked to all potential NFL draft picks from the team, including defensive lineman Marvin Austin and Greg Little.

Schad also says the NCAA is treating this as a major investigation, investigating potential major violations and asking tough questions about gifts or benefits some of the players might have received from agents.

The investigators want to know who paid for trips, hotel rooms and jewelry. They are also looking into what vehicles the players are driving and who owns them.

Schad also says all of the tough questions being asked in the USC investigation are now being asked of UNC.

"If you are a North Carolina football fan you have to be concerned some of your best players won't be on the field for the opening game against LSU, it's a huge game and there's a reason (UNC's) most important players are being questioned right now," Schad said.

As for a timeline on a decision, Schad tells ABC11 that North Carolina would love to have this concluded before the LSU game, but there is no guarantee it's done by the start of the season.

ABC11 also spoke with sports agent Darren Heitner, who revealed new details in his blog . Heitner said "this all started with tweets being sent by UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin.

"It should serve as a warning to other athletes to be careful about what they tweet," he said.

Heitner says student athletes are allowed to have contact with agents after their junior year, but they "can't take any benefit or gift from a sports agent or anyone purporting to be a sports agent while in school."

Heitner admitted there are some agents who bend or break the rules and they need to be held accountable. He says the NCAA also needs to focus on enforcement, "if there's some sort of violation the hand must come down."

Heitner also said student athletes need to be aware of what is going on.

"Athletes need to be empowered and know what is and what isn't permissible," he said. "It can not only hurt the school, but the player ... the consequences are far reaching and there needs to be more knowledge on all parties."

At this point it is unclear when the details about the investigation will be released.

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