Posted by Chip Patterson
A whopping $13,000 in parking tickets wasn't the only interesting revelation from North Carolina's release of documents on Thursday. Phone records show communication between former assistant John Blake and former players Marvin Austin and Cam Thomas during their trip to a California training facility before the 2009 season, J.P. Giglio of the News & Observer in Raleigh reported.
Cellphone records were obtained as part of the lawsuit filed by several local media outlets to release information withheld by the university. They show that Blake contacted numbers tied to Austin while he and Thomas were training with former UNC teammate Kentwan Balmer at Proactive Sports Performance in Westlake Village, Calif. -- a location frequently used by Gary Wichard and Pro Tect Management.
If Blake, or anyone else at UNC had knowledge of Austin and Thomas being with Balmer in California, it would be the responsibility of the North Carolina compliance office to investigate whether the trip was permissible.
Austin has contended as recently as March that no one at UNC knew about his trip with Thomas, but the communication between Blake, Wichard, Austin and Thomas suggests otherwise. Hotel receipts financially link Austin to Wichard's agency and show the dates of the players' stay as July 23 to Aug 1. From July 20 to Aug. 3, Blake's records show 20 calls or texts to Wichard's cellphone, 10 to Austin's and eight to Thomas.
While some have argued that these potential violations can be pinned on Blake, who resigned from the program one game into the 2010 season, the reality is that we may be far from the end of these allegations. Local media has a lot to gain from drawing dots together to try and find something that the NCAA may have missed in their investigation. North Carolina received their Notice of Inquiry from the NCAA on June 7, and sources have reported that the Notice of Allegations could come as soon as this week.
Once North Carolina receives their notice from the NCAA, the closure process can finally begin. It has been reported that the school is expecting the notice to highlight nine different infractions, including failure to monitor charges in relation to Blake, tutor Jennifer Wiley, and former player/runner Chris Hawkins. The notice will also include a suggestion of punishments for the allegations, which could include the loss of scholarships, probation or even a postseason and/or television ban. Once the notice is received, the school will have 90 days to respond and then there will be a date set for the school to appear in front of the Committee on Infractions.
For Tar Heel fans, the hope is that no additional allegations can be drawn from the information released as a result of the lawsuit. The faster that notice comes, the faster the hearing can be set and the entire process can finally be settled.