Saturday, November 5, 2016

Tarnished Heels -- Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-One
Secretary of State football/agent indictments

            In early October it was announced that an Orange County (NC) grand jury had handed up five indictments related to the UNC football scandal from three years earlier.  According to an October 1, 2013, article posted by the local ABC station WTVD, the indictments were sealed and the names and charges were redacted in court documents that had been obtained.  The names would eventually be revealed in the coming weeks.
            The first indictment was for the UNC tutor who had been one of the centerpieces of the football academic scandal, Jennifer Wiley.  Now going under the married name of Jennifer Lauren Wiley Thompson, she had been one of 10 people found by the NCAA to have provided impermissible benefits – both academic and financial – to members of the UNC football team.  The WTVD article stated that in the course of a criminal investigation, agents with the Secretary of State’s office searched Wiley’s phone records – finding “extensive contact between Wiley and UNC-CH student athletes” and “direct contact between Wiley’s number and (sports agent) Peter Schaffer.”
            The second indictment, which was announced on October 9, was for a Georgia-based sports agent.  Terry Watson was indicted with 13 counts of providing cash or travel accommodations to former UNC players Marvin Austin, Greg Little, and Robert Quinn valued at nearly $24,000 in an effort to sign them, according to USA Today.  Watson also faced a count of obstruction of justice for not providing records sought by authorities.
            The third indictment was for Patrick Mitchell Jones, a real estate agent from Cartersville, Georgia, reported on October 14, 2013.  He was indicted with one count of athlete-agent inducement for providing money in May 2010 through a woman identified as Constance Orr to entice Robert Quinn to sign with agent Terry Watson.  Orr was a student and softball athlete at UNC at the time.
            The final two indictments were for Willie James Barley, who was indicted on four counts of athlete-agent inducement, and Michael Wayne Johnson, who was indicted on three counts of athlete-agent inducement.  According to a November 14, 2013, article in The Daily Tar Heel, Barley was employed by Watson Sports Agency.  Johnson was a graduate of Durham (NC) Hillside High School and was a former quarterback at N.C. Central University.  Johnson later worked for Rosenhaus Sports Representation, but his biography had been taken down from the agency’s website by the time of the indictment.
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            An article on from October 10, 2013, warned that the initial five grand jury indictments might not be the end of the matter, as Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall had said there were other ongoing investigations involving UNC.  Of note was an investigation into the school’s AFAM department, which potentially held both academic and athletic ramifications.  Woodall had not announced who he and the SBI had been investigating on that front, but a question remained as to whether Julius Nyang’oro and possibly other members of the AFAM department had committed fraud by collecting paychecks for classes that were not taught.  More information on that front would surface in the coming months.
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The essential (and unanswered) questions:

-- Had the athlete-agent aspect of the scandal been initiated completely from the outside, or had university representatives within the UNC infrastructure known about the ongoing impermissible benefits?