Tag:NCAA investigation
Posted on: September 28, 2010 6:33 pm

A.J. Green finally speaks

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Now that Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green has finished serving his four-game suspension for selling a game-worn jersey to Chris Hawkins, he was finally allowed to speak to reporters for the first time since the suspension on Tuesday.  Much like he was with the NCAA when they came calling, Green was incredibly forthright and honest on Tuesday.

The obvious question was why did Green sell his game-worn jersey from the Independence Bowl to Hawkins, and the answer was simple. He just needed "extra cash" for spring break.  Though Green did also admit that he was aware that selling the jersey could cause a problem for him and Georgia.

“When I did it, I really didn’t think [anything] of it,” Green said of selling the jersey.  “I thought it was just something minor. I didn’t think it would be anything serious when I did it.  I didn’t really think it through. I just did it. And it came back, and it was a big thing. And I served my punishment, and I am ready to play now.”
Green said that the NCAA came around after reading a report on TMZ that he had supposedly been at a party in South Beach hosted by an agent.  It was due to that rumor that the NCAA asked Green if they could see his bank records, and it was while looking through those that the NCAA noticed a $1,000 deposit into Green's account. 

After asking Green where that money had come from, Green came clean about all of it, though he still denies ever attending any party.

Whatever the case, Green should be commended for being honest with the NCAA.  Seems somebody was paying attention to how Dez Bryant handled things at Oklahoma State.
Posted on: September 17, 2010 7:16 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2010 7:28 pm

NCAA upholds Green suspension

Posted by Tom Fornelli

For those Georgia fans out there who were hoping A.J. Green was going to be able to suit up against Arkansas this weekend we've got a bit of bad news.  Green's appeal was heard by the NCAA earlier on Friday, and the NCAA has made it's decision.

They'll be upholding Green's suspension so he's not going to be able to play this weekend.

An NCAA committee has upheld the four-game suspension for Georgia star receiver A.J. Green.

Green had appealed his four-game suspension by the NCAA for selling a bowl jersey for $1,000 to person deemed to be an agent. But NCAA denied his request, which means he will miss the Bulldogs (1-1) Southeastern Conference game Saturday against No. 12 Arkansas.

Of course this also means that Green will be forced to sit out against Mississippi State next week as well.

"Our concentration is the same as the last two weeks which is preparing for the next game," said head coach Mark Richt in a statement. "We'll look forward to A.J.¹s return for the Colorado game on Oct. 2."

This decision may be disappointing for Georgia fans, but it's really not all that surprising.  The NCAA has made it pretty clear how they'll be handling any contact between players and agents, and by reducing their suspension of Green they would have sent the wrong message for what they're trying to accomplish.

Posted on: September 17, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: September 17, 2010 11:47 am

Report: Marvin Austin giving testimony Friday

Posted by Chip Patterson

The NCAA may have claimed one of their first true victims in the agent-scandal when Weslye Saunders was dismissed from the South Carolina football team earlier this week.  While no official ruling had been made from the NCAA, it is assumed that the allegations directly led to his dismissal.

But it's not just the NCAA that can get involved in agent-related scandals in college athletics.  There are 36 states which have passed the Uniform Athlete Agent Act, which prohibits, among other things, agents from supplying anything of value to an athlete before a contractual negotiation is reached.  Any violation of the act can leave the agent subject to civil or criminal charges.  In some cases, violation of the act can be ruled a felony.

North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall announced early in the scandal that her office would launch an investigation of their own, to determine whether or not there were any violations of the Uniform Athlete Agent Act.  Weeks later there were reports that North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin had been subpoenaed to testify in the investigation.

According to an ESPN.com report, Austin is appearing Friday morning before the Secretary of State's office to give testimony about allegations into whether agents and financial advisors violated the Uniform Athletes Agents Act.  

Austin began testifying at 9:30 a.m. ET Friday, the source said. A representative from the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State's office was not immediately available for comment.

The office of the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State subpoenaed Austin earlier this month as part of its investigation into the alleged involvement of some sports agents and financial advisors with UNC student athletes.  

When reached by telephone, Austin's attorney, Christopher Lyons, would not confirm whether Austin is testifying, but added, "Marvin Austin is fully cooperating in their investigation and we'll have no further comment until the investigation is concluded.  

A source told ESPN that Blake has already been subpoenaed by the Secretary of State's office and may testify as early as next week. Blake has not returned messages left on his cell phone.

The biggest development in these testimonies would be any additional information that could be revealed that could affect the current state of the North Carolina football team.  There could be details that were either misunderstood, or omitted entirely from NCAA investigations that would be made clearer when testifying under oath.  

North Carolina has only been able to clear one more player, starting running back Shaun Draughn, since their season-opening 30-24 loss to LSU in the Chick Fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.  However, all of the remaining suspended players have been going through full practice and team activities except for Austin.  This could suggest that North Carolina plans on seeing most of their suspended players back on the field at some point, but have little faith that Austin will get a chance to suit up for the Tar Heels this season.
Posted on: September 15, 2010 2:57 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2010 3:30 pm

Gamecocks dismiss Weslye Saunders from team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It looks like the NCAA's investigation about football players and their involvement with agents has claimed another victim.

Word broke on Wednesday afternoon that the South Carolina Gamecocks had dismissed the previously suspended tight end Weslye Saunders from the team. Saunders had been suspended indefinitely by Steve Spurrier for a "violation of team rules," though Spurrier also said at the time that it had nothing to do with Saunders' alleged residence at the Whitney Hotel in Miami or the NCAA's investigation.

“Weslye Saunders is no longer part of our football program,” said South Carolina AD Eric Hyman in a release. “Beyond that I will have no further comment.”

Whitney, along with other players like North Carolina 's Marvin Austin and Alabama 's Marcell Dareus , came under scrutiny for living in the Whitney Hotel with questions about how they were paying for their stay. The players were all asked to vacate the hotel in August and pay off any outstanding balances--something Whitney reportedly did with the help of a loan -- but Saunders and a number of teammates reportedly still reside there.

Whitney, a native of Durham, North Carolina has also admitted to being a long time friend of Marvin Austin.

Updates on this developing story as they come.

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Posted on: September 13, 2010 12:20 pm

Tar Heels clear running back

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The North Carolina Tar Heels were the most successful team in the ACC Coastal division this week, as they were the only team within the division that didn't manage to lose a game .  Of course, the Tar Heels didn't play this weekend, but these days in the ACC Coastal, bye weeks are all it takes to win.  Using that logic you might think that UNC is the clear cut favorite to win the division because every week they actually do play, they've got 13 players who aren't dressed thanks to that little matter with the NCAA.

Well, the Tar Heels division championship hopes took a hit on Monday morning when the school cleared one of those 13 players to return .

UNC has cleared senior running back Shaun Draughn for Saturday's game against Georgia Tech , according to the depth chart released this morning.

Draughn, the team's leading rusher in 2008, is listed third on the depth chart for the GT game, behind Johnny White and Athony Elzy .

Draughn was one of 13 UNC players who missed the Sept. 4 loss to LSU because of the NCAA investigation into the program. He was the only player of the 13 cleared as of this morning.

Draughn was never actually suspended for the LSU game, but was instead held out of the game for precautionary reasons pending the NCAA's investigation.  The fact that he's been cleared to play this week is a pretty good indication that Draughn hasn't stepped outside the NCAA's guidelines.

As for Draughn's twelve other teammates who are still waiting to be cleared, Butch Davis gave no news as to when or if they'll be cleared.  He did say that eleven of the twelve are practicing with the team this week, and that Marvin Austin is the only one not practicing.  So take that as you will.
Posted on: September 8, 2010 4:49 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2010 5:02 pm

UGA's A.J. Green will receive 4 game suspension

Posted by Chip Patterson

We figured that Georgia would hear an official word from the NCAA as soon as today regarding wide receiver A.J. Green's eligibility.  They did, and unfortunately it means that the star will miss even more playing time.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday afternoon that the NCAA's ruling was for junior wide receiver A.J. Green to miss four games before being eligible to play again.

According to the facts of the case submitted by Georgia, Green sold his Independence Bowl game jersey to an individual who meets the NCAA definition of an agent.  Green has repaid the $1,000 he received for the jersey to charity.

Georgia plans to appeal in hopes of having Green’s suspension reduced. He sat out last week’s season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette and also must sit out the next three games if the NCAA ruling stands.

Head coach Mark Richt told reporters on Tuesday that he figured the ruling would come by the end of the week.  Green has been practicing regularly with the team, though his status on the depth chart was listed as "TBD."  A report earlier today included new details that Green had cooperated with investigators and the sale of a jersey was involved.  It is unknown whether Georgia was surprised at all by the ruling, the news of an appeal is not surprising and is almost routine at this point.

READ MORE: Dennis Dodd breaks down the NCAA's rules regarding the importance of monetary figures in suspensions.  A must-read for better understanding of the punishments.

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Posted on: September 8, 2010 11:43 am
Edited on: September 8, 2010 11:48 am

Source: UGA's Green sold game jersey

Posted by Chip Patterson

Head coach Mark Richt and the University of Georgia have stayed fairly quiet regarding the eligibility of star wide receiver A.J. Green.  He has been practicing with the team and participating in activities, but his official status on the depth chart is "TBD."  On Tuesday, Richt said he hoped to hear an official word from the NCAA by the end of the week.  

The nature of his investigation was rumored to be agent-related, but Green has repeatedly denied attending an alleged agent-sponsored party in South Florida.  A report from ESPN.com on Wednesday seems to confirm that the issue does not deal with agents, but instead with the sale of game-worn jersey.
A person familiar with the NCAA investigation told ESPN.com that Green did not sell his jersey on e-Bay and received less than $1,000 for it. The source said Green has been forthcoming and honest with NCAA investigators, but added there were "some twists and turns" involved with the case.
There is little precedent for such a case, as there were not any rules regarding the sale of memorabilia until 2003.  Interestingly enough, it was a case of Georgia football players selling 2002 SEC Championship rings which prompted the institution of such rules.  

If Green were cleared, he would be able to make an impact immediately for the Bulldogs, changing the face of the offense against division rival South Carolina on Saturday.  Reports say that Georgia could hear official word from the NCAA regarding Green's status as soon as Wednesday, but the suspension (if any) is yet to be determined.

Posted on: September 8, 2010 10:36 am
Edited on: September 8, 2010 11:10 am

Report: UNC assistant frequently called agent

Posted by Chip Patterson

As the NCAA continues it's investigation into the North Carolina football program, college football fans are left to stand on the outside only hearing rumors and murmurs of possible allegations and "insider" information.

That is until a local paper steps in with some good old fashioned investigative reporting.  The News & Observer released a report late Tuesday night that detailed the extensive communication between former assistant coach John Blake and sports agent Gary Whichard.  Blake's connections with Whichard have been the center of scrutiny since news broke of the NCAA's investigation of North Carolina in July.

The university announced Blake's resignation on Sunday evening.  According to the release, Blake stepped down "in the best interest" of the program.  Blake has hired legal representation, suggesting that his involvement in the investigation will not end with his resignation.   

The report details 61 calls from Blake's university-issued cell phone to Whichard in the 61 days between November 5 and January 4.  That date in January happens to be the day that six North Carolina juniors announced they would return for their senior season rather than enter the NFL draft.  Of those six players (Marvin Austin, Greg Little, Deunta Williams, Kendric Burney, Bruce Carter, and Quan Sturdivant), only Carter and Sturdivant were cleared to play in the season opener against LSU.

As for the response from the university?
Asked if it is ever acceptable to have that level of communication between a coach and an agent, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp said in an e-mail: “Whether the level of contact is acceptable or unacceptable depends on what they talked about, and I have no idea what they were discussing. Clearly, Mr. Wichard and Coach Blake have a very close relationship. All things being equal, it’s probably better not to have a close personal relationship with a sports agent if you’re an NCAA coach.”Obviously, with the nature of the investigations in Chapel Hill covering both agent-related issues as well as possible academic improprieties, it is difficult to distinguish which of the allegations are tied to which players.  But with a possible subpoena for Marvin Austin coming from the North Carolina Secretary of State's office, it is hard not to think that this could get messy.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall already announced her investigation into possible violations of the Uniform Athlete Agent Act.  North Carolina is one of 42 states that govern contact between amateurs and agents.  The laws prohibit agents from offering gifts before a contract is signed, and the punishment can be civil or criminal.     

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