Third person charged in sports-agent activity at UNC
Georgia real estate agent Patrick Jones today became the third person to be arrested in the state’s investigation into the North Carolina football program.
Jones, 39, appeared in an Orange County Courthouse this morning and was released on a $20,000 secured bond. He has been charged with providing $725 in 2010 to get then-UNC defensive lineman Robert Quinn to sign with sports agent Terry Watson, in violation of the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Agent Act.
The act prohibits giving athletes anything of value to get them to sign with an agent. Watson and former academic tutor Jennifer Wiley Thompason have also been arrested for violating the act, while two other indictments are still under seal.
Jones was charged with giving the money to a person named Constance Orr. A former UNC softball player named Constance Orr graduated from UNC in 2013. Instead of paying players directly, investigators have alleged that Watson and his associates would give money to players’ friends as a way to avoid NCAA scrutiny.
Jones was charged with one count of athlete agent inducement, a Class I felony, though someone without an extensive criminal record would only be given probation if found guilty. Jones, who left the courthouse without commenting, is scheduled to be back in court on Dec. 17.
Watson has been charged with providing almost $24,000 to Quinn and teammates Marvin Austin and Greg Little, while Thompson is alleged to have passed payments from Watson to Little.
The indictments stem from a three-year-long investigation by the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office, which is in charge of policing the conduct of sports agents in the state.
A investigator from the Secretary of State’s office conducted an interview at Jones’s residence in Clarksville, Ga., last June. According to a search warrant affidavit released earlier this year, Jones told the investigator he was a longtime friend of Watson’s and confessed to sending FedEx packages containing cash to college athletes at Watson’s request “many times.”
Jones said that he did that to entice athletes to sign with Watson, and that the payments were “the only way Watson could compete with the bigger (agents) and their companies.”
Jones’s name and address were listed on a package sent to then-UNC defensive lineman Marvin Austin in 2010 that Austin said contained $2,000.
Jones was not charged for that transaction, though a $2,000 payment to Austin was one of the 14 counts in Watson’s indictment.
Quinn and Little were declared permanently ineligible and Austin was kicked off the team for accepting benefits in violation of NCAA rules. Quinn was selected in the middle of the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, while Little and Austin were taken in the second round. None of the three ended up signing with Watson, and all three are still in the NFL.