More indictments to be unsealed in UNC football scandal


Last week, a former UNC tutor appeared in an Orange County courtroom on the first indictment made public in the case. It alleges 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.

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.

Now, dozens of UNC students are at risk of not graduating because of the questionable classes.

The university is scrambling to get them to make up their course work all while the criminal probe into those controversial classes continue.

Since 1997, nearly 400 students took the bogus classes. Today 46 students need additional credit hours before they can graduate.

"The improper actions of a few employees dishonored an entire system," said UNC Board of Governors Member Louis Bissette back in February after a series of internal and external investigations, reports, and panels on academic fraud.

Months later, fraudulent classes and course grades offered to student athletes are still under investigation and under wraps.

Woodall declined to comment Monday on the status of the State Bureau's investigation, but he has worked closely with the agency trying to determine whether there is a money trail leading to the former African and Afro-American department chair and his assistant.

The fallout now directly impacts forty-six UNC students who took a fraudulent class.

Letters have gone out informing those students that in order to graduate they will need to take a makeup class, an exam, or provide proof of their course work.

According to UNC, so far, only one student attempting to complete their degree has registered for a free class. As for the more than 300 students who have long since graduated, it is up to them if they want to take that class, but they are not required to.

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