Tag:Gary Wichard
Posted on: June 23, 2011 1:53 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 10:29 pm
 

Ex-USC WR White admits taking illegal money

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Lonnie White, a former USC wide receiver and kick returner, wrote at TheDaily.com on Thursday that he frequently received large sums of money while he was playing for the Trojans in the mid-'80s. White, whose name is probably more familiar to California residents as a longtime Los Angeles Times writer (a skill on display in his article here), said he received a total $14,000 in illegal payments. He detailed one $5,000 transaction, saying he waited in "an empty lot ... sitting alone in a parked car late at night" and that he was given a "small brown bag filled with money."

That part in and of itself is a bit troubling, but not entirely surprising; the big thing there is that there's someone willing to put their name to it (and under no pressure to do so) instead of it being the stuff of rumor or allegation. No, the real key to White's story is that according to him, this type of behavior was commonplace across generations -- and he has his family to back him up. White's father Elwood told him such bending of the rules was prevalent at Morgan State as far back as the late '40s, and White's older brother Tim also played for USC's football team and introduced him to their "money man" in Lonnie's first year on campus:

We would use the meeting as a joyous occasion, but for most of my freshman year, I didn’t exactly know how the process worked. This was before cell phones, and my brother kept me in the dark when it came to details. I just remember taking a variety of items, from signed footballs to player-issued season tickets, to our benefits source in exchange for money, usually cash.

Even though I knew what I was doing was wrong, it seemed like everyone I knew who played college football enjoyed some type of extra benefits as a player.

Fortunately for USC, this story isn't going to lead to NCAA investigators hounding the White family and the USC athletic department for details. The statute of limitations for NCAA violations (absent a continuing pattern of repeat violations) is four years, so unless the NCAA finds a pattern of misbehavior going back 25 years, this is irrelevant to their current casework -- and let's be honest, if the NCAA finds that type of historical rule-breaking with USC, that program is getting nuked regardless of what White says.

Also, the Trojan athletic department and coaches, which White doesn't implicate, would catch the most heat in situations like these. Here's what White had to say about why the coaching staff doesn't merit criticism in this instance:

It must be noted that all this went on without the coaches’ knowledge. That seems hard to believe. It is true, though. At major programs, the pressure to win and the time commitment the coaches put forth toward the program itself leaves major opportunities for players to interact with people who have a different agenda.

That's a valid and underreported point. When North Carolina head coach Butch Davis tells NCAA investigators that he had no idea John Blake was a prolific runner for Gary Wichard while coaching for the Tar Heels at the same time, he probably meant it ... and the NCAA (no shrinking violet when it comes to sanctions, as USC can attest) clearly believed him, opting not to hit UNC with the dreaded Lack Of Institutional Control in its notice of allegations earlier this week.

At the same time, though, Davis did get a Failure To Monitor charge, which is still pretty bad, and ignorance is hardly a valid defense for coaches. White closes out his piece by noting that he knows at least five BCS-level players from last season who believe that the impermissible benefit problem is much larger than is being reported. That's probably because the coaches, by and large, still don't know when it's going on.

The worst part is, this will go on forever. It's an inevitable result of trying to instill and enforce a code of strict amateurism in a capitalist society. You can't get people to stop wanting money, and the stricter the consequences are, the greater lengths the athletes will go to to conceal the activity. Hence Lonnie White, sitting in an empty lot late at night, trading season tickets for a bag of money. Basic capitalism turned into an act of shame. That's obviously not the NCAA's stated goal, but it's the clear end result.

Doesn't seem right, does it?


Posted on: June 17, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 9:41 pm
 

Records show Blake spoke to players during trip

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.

Posted on: May 19, 2011 7:22 pm
 

Report: NCAA interviews UNC DE Quinton Coples

Posted by Adam Jacobi

A report by Joe Schad of ESPN today indicated that North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples is gaining unwanted attention from the NCAA after he was seen in online pictures from a post-draft party earlier this month. Coples is with former North Carolina players Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn in the pictures, and a man the NCAA has investigated as a possible runner for agents is also visible in some pictures.

The issue here is that the party was held in Washington D.C., and that Austin and Quinn were both barred from playing in 2010 after having taken illegal benefits from agents. That Coples would show up at such a party is enough to garner the NCAA's attention, though there's no indication as yet that his eligibility is in doubt. Still, he's got some questions to answer:

Photographs of Coples with Austin and Quinn that appeared on Facebook and the web site EliteDCMag.com prompted the inquiry. The party is labeled as taking place at "Ultrabar" nightclub. Also seen in photos with players is at least one alleged runner the NCAA has investigated.

The NCAA wants to know how Coples paid for his travel to the party, who paid for his admission and his hotel, and if he accepted any free food or drink. 

This sort of controversy is the last thing North Carolina needs after the massive scandal of illegal benefits cost 13 players (mostly high-profile starters) their eligibility, UNC assistant John Blake his job, and agent Gary Wichard his license. Head coach Butch Davis saved his job by acting swiftly once the illegal benefits were discovered and not participating in any objectionable behavior, but if this type of problem continues to cost North Carolina's top players their eligibility, UNC administration officials may have significantly less patience for Davis this time around.

Posted on: February 9, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2011 3:11 pm
 

UNC loses another D-line coach

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's something for you to ponder: which job has a shorter shelf life these days? Being Georgia's mascot, or coaching the defensive line at North Carolina? It seems like each gig is trying to one-up its counterpart. North Carolina makes the latest move with today's news that Brian Baker is leaving North Carolina to take a position with the Dallas Cowboys.

Baker just became the the defensive line coach in Chapel Hill four weeks ago, and he's the third person to have the job since the beginning of the 2010 season. Call it the Curse of John Blake if you like, because he was the man who had held on to the job before his dealings with agent Gary Wichard brought so many headaches to the Tar Heels earlier this season.

Charlie Coiner was the coach between both Baker and Blake.

As for why Baker is leaving, though he was hired four weeks ago, apparently he never signed a contract with the school. Then the Cowboys came along and made him an offer that included a "huge difference" in salaries, and he couldn't turn it down. Baker also said that his dream is still to be a college head coach some day, but he believes that going to Dallas will only help him achieve that dream.

Then there's the money, too. That doesn't hurt either.
Posted on: October 12, 2010 8:48 pm
 

Former agent admits giving illegal cash, benefits

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Back when the news about Gary Wichard, John Blake, and the now-infamous Miami party first hit, it was only remarkable in that all the people involved went ahead with the whole deal because they assumed they'd get away with it. And being that Wichard's been in the business for decades, it's unlikely that this was his first foray into shady business.

And now that we've all seen the article penned by former agent John Luchs, we can see exactly why everyone thought it was a good idea: agents commit NCAA violations all the time. Luchs cops to giving cash or benefits to over 30 different college players over the course of seven years, and not once was he or the player in question ever disciplined in any respect.

And yet, Luchs doesn't have any remorse about his work as an agent, and that's probably smart; paying players is only damaging insofar as it's illegal, not because it actually has any debilitating effect on the player's ability to perform on the football.

Still, there's a case to be made for following the rules here; while Luchs lands high-caliber players and high draft picks all over the place, the level of NFL success was higher for the guys who refused Luchs' money; those players include Keyshawn Johnson, Dana Stubblefield, and Jonathan Ogden (though Ogden did accept some concert tickets, and that's definitely a story worth reading). Meanwhile, Luchs' most successful client who took money was probably either Tony Banks or Jamir Miller; other clients included high-round draft picks Ryan Leaf, Joel Steed, and Kanavis McGhee. Which, yeah. 

The most damaging part of the story, in fact, is the part involving Gary Wichard, and that's even considering the fact that Luchs credits Wichard with telling him not to pay players. It's still bad, and here's why:

 

Gary used his contacts in the coaching community to help him get players. This has recently come into public view, as the NCAA and the state of North Carolina are investigating the Tar Heels football program and whether John Blake, a Carolina assistant coach since 2007, steered players to Gary and received money from him. It's no secret in the agent business that some college coaches steer players to certain agents. I laughed when I heard Gary deny in the media that John ever worked with Pro Tect.

When I was with Gary, John worked hand in hand with us, and Gary called him his "partner." John was the defensive line coach of the Dallas Cowboys when they won Super Bowls XXVIII and XXX, and the head coach at Oklahoma from '96 through '98. He was one of the best recruiters I'd ever seen. He was just electric, and I leveraged him to get clients whenever I could.

So, yes. John Blake is completely radioactive now, and while it's nice to hear Butch Davis tell people he regrets trusting John Blake, it's really a wonder that Davis even trusted him in the first place; Blake's either a genius at hiding his involvement with Wichard, or Davis ignored a lot of red flags in hiring the former Oklahoma head man.

Posted on: October 4, 2010 5:39 am
 

John Blake contacted Alabama's Dareus for agent?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

There are reports emerging late tonight that John Blake, the now-fired assistant coach to Butch Davis at North Carolina, contacted Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus on behalf of agent Gary Wichard.

Assuming all of this is true, two quick observations and one long one:

1. John Blake is now completely unemployable in D-I football.

2. Using an assistant coach at a Top 25, BCS-conference school as a runner is like the top alpha-male move an agent can make.

3. This should never happen.

Obviously it's not much of an intellectual feat to decide that this revelation is bad for college football, but the when we've gotten to the point that an agent asking an assistant coach -- regardless of whether they're prior acquaintances -- to act as a runner for a player and the coach accepts, then we're past some sort of rubicon. That would mean that both the agent and the coach had decided that to engage in this activity was in their best interests, and that the reward outweighed the risk. Furthermore, Dareus did accept over $1,700 from Wichard, leading to his two-game suspension, so evidently Dareus agreed about those best interests.

Perhaps it's a failure on the NCAA's part that these type of deals go on. Someone like Dareus would face significant punishment if he came forward to the NCAA about the nature of his involvement with people like Blake and Wichard once he accepted an illegal benefit -- regardless of whether he knew at the time it was inappropriate. At that point, it becomes in Dareus' best interests to hide this fact, not report it. With the benefit of retroactive immunity as a whistleblower, however, he can report the details of Wichard's and Blake's dealings to the NCAA without fearing the severe punishment that would normally await him.

Obviously, this would have to go hand-in-hand with an equally punitive measure against agents; recall that Wichard had to think this was all a good idea too, and that's because he doesn't face any serious professional repercussions over this mess. Sure, he's going to have some negative publicity, but Wichard still gets to be other players' agent. His agent's license (which is to say, his livelihood) isn't seriously at risk here, and as long as he and his peers are treated more favorably by the appropriate authorities than their potential clients, this type of silliness will continue unabated.

And yes, this new arrangement would sort of encourage a high-profile player to momentarily abuse this position of trust by the NCAA, but not only would it significantly discourage this strange courtship from being instigated in the first place, it's also time that the NCAA started empowering its most high-profile athletes to help protect its cherished amateurism, not assuming they're undermining it at every step of the way.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com