By Michael Felder
Yesterday, late in the afternoon the NCAA delivered their Notice of Allegations to the University of North Carolina.
The notice details what the NCAA is "charging" North Carolina with after they have concluded their investigation, which, ironically lasted nearly a year to the date this whole mess got started. Here's the actual text of the document that the Heels received yesterday, players names are redacted as are the trip destinations but aside from those two points everything else is pretty much intact.
*An interesting point of note is that Butch Davis' name is nowhere to be found throughout the document*
Don't have time to read all the wordy fun the NCAA provided or read it and are still thinking what the hell? Here's the basic run down of the nine violations:
1-Jennifer Wiley (the tutor) wrote 5 conclusion paragraphs, a thesis statement, 3 sets of citations, 3 works cited pages, impermissible revisions (over revised/edited a draft of a paper), provided research that an athlete used on their paper.
2-Wiley provided $150 for a plane ticket to a student athlete and $1,789 to pay parking tickets for the same athlete. Also did some 142 hours of tutoring for free for 9 student athletes, a monetized value of $1,562 ($11 per hour).
3-This is a combination of the violations from allegation number two (above) and the fact that Ms. Wiley refused to cooperate by meeting with school and NCAA officials or submit information to aid in the investigation.
4-Here's the big thing for you guys, the EXTRA BENEFITS! The Heels, seven players to be specific, took a grand total of $27,097.38 We're looking at, in descending order: $13,507.47, $5,642.92, $5,040.20, $1,396.54, $1,320.75, $135, $54.50. The biggest thing here isn't the amount of money the guys got, but rather the Blake-Wichard combo that folks have been thumping their whooping sticks on isn't the biggest violator in terms of quantity, Todd Stewart is as he shows up numerous times with two players.
5-This is all about the trips. Both the actual taking of the trips, their destination and the investigation surrounding these trips. We've got three trips to multiple destinations and while the locations are redacted we can see that the player involved was not truthful about the trips themselves or who financed the trips and his lodging while staying at each destination.
6-John Blake makes his first appearance here as an employee of Pro-Tect management from 2007-2010. Oddly enough 2007-2010 is the exact same time that Blake was the defensive line coach for the University of North Carolina. See how that works? He was employed by Pro-Tect to "influence football student athletes" to choose Gary Wichard as their representation upon turning professional. Keep in mind this is not the time period prior to Blake's employment when we was a consultant, this is a directly parallel employment where Blake worked for an agent and for the University, albeit, without the knowledge of the school.
7-More John Blake fun-ness folks, we've got the $31,000 income that Blake earned from Pro-Tect during his time also drawing a paycheck from the university. The cash came into his accounts via wire transfers from a Pro-Tect account at the First National Bank of Long Island and while Blake has said they were private school payments for his kids the income is believed to be his compensation for the aforementioned 2007-2010 employment.
8-Like Wiley, Blake draws the always easy "you didn't talk to us" violation from the NCAA. In his case he didn't just refuse to talk or submit pertinent information but Blake also misrepresented facts and lied to investigators during his time with the school in 2010 as the investigation started.
9-Failure to Monitor rounds out the Heels violations. This violation occurred on three levels; Chris Hawkins, social media and preferential treatment. Chris Hawkins the former player will be discussed as we break down the issues later. Social Media violation is new and I believe the first we've seen of this ilk as schools are now tasked with policing twitter/facebook and more. The treatment subject is two fold both with the tutor and with the fact that apparently administration was tipped off about possible improper benefits being provided but failed to act effectively.
We could break this down line by line but the fact is I already lost that copy of this article into some damn internet wasteland at 10:33 thanks to some poor cursor usage and the damn backspace key. With regards to the Heels we've got a handful of central issues: academic fraud, extra benefits, John Blake, former players, failure to monitor and of course Chris Hawkins.
Jennifer Wiley, the infamous UNC tutor, has her dirty laundry aired and quite honestly it doesn't look all that bad from the academic standpoint. We're looking at writing conclusions for some papers, over zealous revision, providing research information, writing works cited pages and working citations into papers. In the grand scheme of the academic fraud folks were looking (hoping) for that is none too major. It falls somewhere between "here are the answers to the test" and "look it up" on the scale of academic help given to folks through the ages. Still given UNC's holier than though "Public Ivy" image this is not a good sign and while not the delicious chum folks hoped for it is something to nibble on.
We've got a few categories of benefits given as Wiley makes an appearance here, a jeweler is helping out, agents show up, former players play a party too and of course the "unknown" benefactors. Not much to say about the unknown folks they gave small cash anyways. Wiley's appearance comes in two forms. First and foremost her involvement with a player does make things a bit odd on my end given the fact that I had a girlfriend buy me a plane ticket in 2004. That's what Wiley did for the UNC football players she had somewhat of a "relationship" with; purchased a plane ticket for $150 for said player and also paid $1,789 worth of parking tickets for him as well. She also provided all those damn hours of free tutoring to players, I'm not sure how the time was calculated because I have a hard time believing any of the boys spent that much time with a tutor unless we're looking at big review sessions she did for free. You can dispute what is and isn't a girlfriend or girlfriend like figure amongst yourselves but those are the facts regarding Wiley.
The jeweler is an open and shut case; AJ Mosciato gave Robert Quinn a black diamond watch. We've all read about it right? That folks, if you don't realize is a damn nice watch. It got offered, no strings attached, the kid took it. He broke the rules, pretty simple if you ask me.
Agents, agents everywhere. Not really, just three guys; Gary Wichard, Todd Stewart and Michael Katz. Stewart of Pro Sports Management and Kelso of Rosenhaus Management make appearances along with Wichard on the three big offenders. The same three kids Marvin Austin, Greg Little and Robert Quinn that were forced to sit out the entire 2010 season. Dealing with the agents got these guys caught up and it also cost them what could have been a chance to elevate their draft stock. As Nick Saban, Jimbo Fishers and others have said, finding a way to keep the agents from offering the enticements is key, kids aren't out there dialing these guys up for a lunch meeting. That said, it is against the rules and they oughta say no.
"Black Santa" in the building folks, only it isn't for any of the activity that you'd expect to be occuring with "Black Santa." As people who follow the recruiting game know that is where John Blake earned his nickname as being the incredibly giving guy that could sweep any recruit off his feet and pull him from your school by just "showing up" into town. This stuff he's being cited for here in the UNC case is directly related to his relationship with Gary Wichard. The two had been associated with one another for many years and have been investigated before only to find no wrong doing. Well this time, for all the folks across Oklahoma and Texas that have been praying and preying on his downfall for years; the NCAA has him nailed to the floor.
They got him for lying, they got him taking cash from Pro-Tect and they've got him for working for Pro-Tect. First time they've ever really been able to pin the guy down.
As for UNC we'll see how this works; Blake and Butch Davis relationship over the years has both been played up by folks hoping to establish a link and downplayed by Davis himself. The truth is likely somewhere between the "oh they were best friends and know one another oh so well" and the "he was out of touch with Blake for a long time" that we're seeing from each respective side. The important part of note here is there is no link between Blake and the university with regards to his actions. Using the information given to us in this PDF there is no evidence that Davis or administration had any knowledge of Blake's other career going on simultaneously as a Pro-Tect employee.
This, folks is where it gets weird. We've already seen my take on hanging out with your former players on draft day and truth be told this falls under that same umbrella for me. These former players allowed current players to stay with them, use their cars and other "hospitable" services while our guys were in their town. I'm not mad at them for that. But it is an apparent violation to fly your boys out, have them stay with your or put them up in a hotel so that you all can either work out together or just have a good time. Take from it what you will but this isn't one that I can say I agree with on any grounds. It is a rule, they broke it, pay the consequences is the right thing to say I guess.
To be honest, it appears at least to me, that these rules get broken all the time. Not going to grandstand about how bad of a rule it is or how difficult it is to enforce, just take the medicine and move on. This fall I guess I will just not have to buy anyone a drink or meal, right?
Failure to Monitor:
I'm saving the Chris Hawkins part for the last because I think he is a unique case but we'll get into the other two issues here. First of all social networking. A violation for failing to monitor kids accounts to be more specific. This can only lead to one of two things in collegiate sports as more and more ADs get this NOA in their hands and realize they're now being held responsible for the twitter, facebook, 4sqr and other accounts of their athletes; folks will either have to register their accounts with schools and schools will have to be on a constant vigil or people will say "no social media" for athletes. Which do you think is easier?
Yeah, taking it away, and while it will help ADs, SIDs and coaches sleep better at night that's only until the first ghost account gets discovered and it makes Will Hill Action seem tame. However, in all reality as I've said before college is a teaching ground for more than just 4-3 schemes and book learning; it is about growing up, this ruling makes it clear schools will either need to step up their monitoring or completely cut out the social media.
Regarding the informant attempting to tip off UNC administration about the possible improper benefits being provided there is not a whole lot to say here. If you want UNC to be 100% wrong you can say they were trying to cover it up and just refused to act. Honestly, I'd like to see who was telling on who before point any fingers. Considering the source is an important aspect to this violation. For example if scrub ass Michael Felder tells a coach that Star Player X might, maybe be hanging out with the wrong crowd or a suspicious guy the odds that it goes very far are not very high. Not because I'm not credible but more because they've got a lot on their plate and if the kid says "no I'm not" there isn't much of a place to go from there.
Teammate of mine. A guy I'd call a peripheral friend. We lifted weights together everyday. We've gone to the bars/clubs together. Had class together. In the people you know and read in the media odds are I know him the best. That's not bragging, that's perspective. First question most folks have is how can this guy be allowed to do one-on-one's and work out in the facility given his criminal record and the fact that he was dismissed from team.
Well a few things the staff in 2004 that dismissed Hawk is not the staff in 2009 that allowed him to work out. His dismissal and transfer were handled pretty quietly, behind closed doors and odds are outside of position coaches (both now gone), maybe some strength coaches (mostly gone), players (all gone) and head coach (gone) odds are no one actually knows the reason behind the leaving. You certainly didn't read about it when it happened, it was just a "Chris Hawkins transfers to Marshall" footnote in spring 2004, most assumed due to a coaching change at DB.
Secondly Butch Davis' goal is to help UNC become quite similar to Miami in that culture of former players coming back to work out and mentor the younger players. Elevate the sense of belonging within former Heels so that they are always selling the program to others, selling HIS program to others. Hawkins, while he's not Julius Peppers or Hakeem Nicks, is an "old head" a guy that was here when times were hard that did work hard and was helping the DBs learn some of the things he's picked up along his short journeyman pro career.
So the school's failure to do a background check on a guy that, to them, was just trying to workout over the summer to hopefully get back into pro football while helping their guys get better doesn't surprise me. It is the same reason no one asked guys those type questions when I was working out in the facility; they're one of us and we do what we can to help them.
While I understand the public's "how can you not know" fervor I can also understand why no one did more beyond a "who is that" check. I'm pretty sure if I was in Chapel Hill for the summer and wanted to work out during this time period you better believe I'd be doing 1 on 1's with the boys and lifting in the weight room, not going to the local YMCA and using some beat up second rate bench and squat rack.
And while I understand this will be anecdotal, understand it is anecdotal and specific to the exact same time frame; in the 4+ years since I've been on the UNC roster I've been inside the stadium plenty of times to talk to trainers or strength coaches, wait for a friend to grab something before we went somewhere and just to look at the new locker room.
So basically there is the outline of what UNC is dealing with and some information regarding the biggest players in this drama. Jennifer Wiley, John Blake and Chris Hawkins have become sort of scapegoats in this saga as they are the faces, along with the agents, that UNC fans can point their fingers at and say "you ruined my 2010" season. Truth is it was a collective failure by multiple parts of the system and while Wiley, Blake and Hawkins at least appear to be acting on their own, the truth is in all of this guys also had a chance to say no.
There are some unclear rules such as the former player issues, the can your girlfriend-ish-type person give you money, how much tutoring is too much tutoring and whatnot. Now that the NOA is in we'll see how the university plays this, as I'm sure most are aware I'm less than impressed and at times have felt totally disenfranchised by their handling of the situation. Let's see how quick they get this in and what, if anything they choose to appeal.
None of this is much of a surprise if you've been following the case. Butch Davis isn't any worse off now that he was 24 hours ago or 8 months ago although some folks seem to think this starts a new story. As I always say with hiring and firing coaches, it is a cost-benefit situation, will it cost you more to keep him or lose him and right now for UNC and what the program is doing it still sits in the "cost more to lose him" in my eyes. Apparently the NCAA doesn't deem him responsible either seeing as his name wasn't in the documents sent over.
Oh and how can I forget, sanctions: I'm thinking the vacation of the seasons leading up to the scandal 2008-2009 and I'm not sold on 2010, at least yet. Loss of some scholarships 9-12 over 3-4 years. I don't expect the bowl or TV ban that some many folks want. Maybe I'm being overly optimistic but largely that is rooted in the fact that UNC did actively punish Marvin Austin, Robert Quinn, Greg Little, Deunta Williams, Kendric Burney, Michael McAdoo and Da'Norris Searcy. Something I don't think many have taken into account when comparing this situation to others.
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