Grand jury looking into UNC sports agent scandal

Oct. 01, 2013 @ 09:38 PM

A source close to the investigation said an agent from the N.C. Secretary of State’s Office appeared before an Orange County grand jury this week as part of an investigation into whether sports agents made illegal contact with UNC football players.

Media reports on Tuesday suggested that indictments had been handed up, but remained sealed.

The Secretary of State’s Office has been looking into violations of the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Agents Act, which requires sports agents doing business in the state to be registered and to follow rules on how and when they can contact players.

Agents who violate the act could be tried for a Class I felony, the lowest-level felony in North Carolina, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 months and civil fines of up to $25,000.

The statute is meant to punish agents and protect players, so no former Tar Heels would be indicted. The indictments would be issued in Orange County because the alleged crimes were associated with players from Chapel Hill.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Tuesday that he was not allowed to comment on any developments. Last month, Woodall said that Mitch Garrell, who works for the Conference of District Attorneys and specializes in financial crimes, was brought in to help with the case.

In a search warrant that was unsealed last month, Hillside High School graduate Greg Little told the Secretary of State’s office that he received more than $20,000 from Georgia-based agent Terry Watson in 2010, when he was still a wide receiver at UNC. Former UNC defensive lineman Marvin Austin said he received $2,000 from Watson.

Little and Austin were declared permanently ineligible by the NCAA for accepting benefits from other sources, and both now play in the NFL.

An NCAA investigation into improprieties in the UNC football program eventually led to the suspension of 14 football players, the firing of football coach Butch Davis and the early retirement of athletic director Dick Baddour.