A financial connection between veteran NFL agent Gary Wichard and former North Carolina assistant John Blake has been established in a Yahoo! Sports story posted Wednesday.
The story states that Wichard has been paying Blake large amounts of money and that a credit card was issued in Blake's name within the last three years. Blake resigned from North Carolina on Sept. 5 saying he didn't want to be a "distraction" while NCAA and state investigations were underway. Wichard and Blake are under investigation by the NCAA and North Carolina Secretary of State for possible agent tampering of college athletes.
"I don't get involved with him bringing me players or anything like that," Wichard told Yahoo! Sports. "It has not happened."
However, documentation in the story could suggest otherwise. The story says there were at least six wire transfers from Wichard's private bank to Blake. Blake got a $45,000 loan from that bank, The First National Bank of Long Island. Blake also reportedly got a Pro Tect Management credit card in his name.
In essence, this could be the first-ever case of a major-college football coach being a "runner" for an agent. If the allegations are true, Carolina could be in line for major sanctions.
Pro Tect is Wichard's Southern Californai-based company which lists several high-profile clients including -- from the 2010 draft class -- Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame and USC players, Taylor Mays and Everson Griffen. Other Wichard clients include veterans Dwight Freeney, Darren Sproles and Elvis Dumervil. Wichard has been certified by the NFL Players Association since 1986 according to the 2009 NFLPA contract advisory directory.
North Carolina is fighting NCAA investigations on two fronts. Enforcement officials are also trying to determine if a tutor improperly helped players write papers. If true that would be academic fraud, one of the most serious violations in the NCAA's eyes.
North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin remains suspended while his role in the case is evaluated. Austin has five cross-country trips under scrutiny. His name appears on a hotel receipt that includes the name "Pro Tect Management" as well as a Marriott Rewards number for NFL marketing agent Fadde Mikhail. Mikhail denied involvement with Austin when contacted by Yahoo! Sports.
Carolina has been playing without several suspended players since the beginning of the season as the investigations have dragged on.