Former UNC tutor charged in football scandal

Jennifer Lauren Thompson (aka Jennifer Wiley)
October 2, 2013 9:00:00 PM PDT
A former UNC tutor appeared in an Orange County courtroom Thursday on charges she worked to encourage a student athlete to sign with a professional sports agent.

Jennifer Lauren Thompson (now married and the former Jennifer Wiley) is charged with athlete agent inducement. She faces four counts of athlete-agent inducement, which is a Class I felony that carries a maximum sentence of 15 months in prison. Violations could also carry civil penalties of up to $25,000.

An indictment unsealed Thursday alleges Thompson provided former UNC football player Greg Little with roundtrip plane ticket to Florida in the amount of $579.50.

The North Carolina Secretary of State's office has been looking into whether sports agents broke the law by giving gifts to players. North Carolina law requires agents to register with the Secretary of State's office and prohibits offering gifts to entice athletes to sign representation contracts.

Search warrants in the investigation have focused on Little and former UNC football player Marvin Austin - who allegedly told investigators an agent provided cash and other benefits.

More indictments against others accused in the case are also expected to be unsealed this week.

This is the first-ever agent athlete inducement charge, and the Orange County DA Jim Woodall says other states are watching North Carolina prosecute the case.

"Although some people feel like this goes on everywhere, since everybody does it, it's OK. That's not the way it is. It's not OK," Woodall said.

The indictment against Thompson says in May 2010, she attempted to get Little to sign with Terry Watson of the Georgia-based Watson Sports Agency.

Thompson's attorney warns against the unchartered legal territory.

"I think it's not clear that she's violated any law," defense attorney Elliot Abrams said. "Everyone has to be careful in pre-judging and jumping to conclusions. This really has been just a long and sad road for Jennifer."

Thompson's bail was set at $15,000 and her next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 15.

Austin and Little were kicked off the UNC football team after an NCAA investigation found they had accepted thousands of dollars in trips and gifts from agents. The same investigation said Thompson helped them write papers - violating the honor code.

Thompson was banned from UNC and asked her to stay away from players for at least five years.

Due to the duo investigations, 13 players sat out the 2010 season opener against LSU due to the investigation, with six players sitting out the entire season. Three of those were either dismissed from the team or declared "permanently ineligible" by the NCAA.

In September 2010, Associate Head Coach John Blake resigned because of questions about receiving money from an agent in California. In July 2011, UNC fired Head Coach Butch Davis. Davis has denied knowing anything about any wrongdoing.

In March 2012, the NCAA issued formal sanctions against the Carolina football program. In May 2012, UNC released a faculty investigation revealing problems in more than 50 African-American studies' classes - classes 'popular' with athletes.

In August 2012, UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp announced that the university would study the athletic and academic programs on campus. At the same time UNC appointed former Gov. Jim Martin to investigate the African-American studies classes.

In December 2012, Martin concluded there were 200 "no show classes," and more than 500 "unusual" grade changes going back to 1994.

In February of this year, Chancellor Holden Thorp announced his resignation. He's now the provost at Washington University in St. Louis.

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