UNC agent investigation drags on

January 27, 2011 10:26:51 AM PST
It's been six months since North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall announced she would launch an investigation into agent activity at UNC and possible violations of agent-regulating laws. 190 days later, that probe continues with no signs of any resolution.

The Secretary of State’s Office told ABC11 Thursday, "it is very difficult to put an ongoing investigation on a timetable" but confirmed the investigation is "still active and ongoing."

The investigation was launched last summer after the NCAA began interviewing players at UNC regarding whether those players received improper benefits from sports agents.

"We will spend the time that is necessary. We will do it as quickly as possible, because we don’t like these things to linger on" said Marshall in July.

Since then, no information has been released, including a full list of agents who were sent a letter of inquiry from the Secretary of State, or the exact contents of the letter.

Marvin Austin and John Blake have been interviewed by the Secretary of State, but what they said remains a mystery.

Here's what has happened since July 21 (the day Marshall launched her investigation):

  • 14 UNC players were held out of at least one game in the 2010-2011 season.
  • Marvin Austin was dismissed from the team.
  • Greg Little and Robert Quinn were both ruled permanently ineligible for receiving approximately $5,000 in benefits each, including high end jewelry.
  • John Blake, the alleged cornerstone of the investigation, resigned.
  • Phone records reveal hundreds of calls between Blake and sports agent Gary Wichard.
  • Yahoo! Sports uncovers financial transactions between Blake and Wichard.
  • Gary Wichard suspended by the NFL Players Association for 9 months for his involvement with Marvin Austin.

According to a recent Associated Press report, 42 states (including North Carolina) have adopted the Uniform Athlete Agent Act, and less than half of them have levied so much as a fine against an agent. The federal government hasn’t done so under the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act Either.

Rand Getlin, a sports attorney and President of Synrgy Sports Consulting, wrote in a recent article policing the misconduct of sports agents is a farce:

"The University of North Carolina suspended and dismissed several players, banished some individuals from contact with the program, forced one coach into a resignation, and suffered the indignity of a probing NCAA investigation. More recently, even the NFLPA chose to sanction - albeit lightly - one agent connected with the mess at UNC. Meanwhile, Elaine Marshall’s office has remained silent, cowering behind the safety of a state seal. And outside of her office window, other NFL agents are speeding up and down her collegiate freeways, unchecked and unafraid."

As of now, Elaine Marshall’s office says "we will release information as soon as we are able."

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