UNC leaders hope charges will deter rogue sports agent
UNC system President Tom Ross said Friday that the decision by Orange County authorities to charge a sports agent accused of providing student athletes with improper benefits will hopefully deter the practice.
Ross made his statement Friday to reporters following a meeting of the UNC Board of Governors.
Earlier this week, sports agent Terry Watson of Marietta, Ga., was charged with 13 counts of providing illegal benefits to three former UNC football players -- Greg Little, Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn.
Watson, who made his first appearance Wednesday at the Orange County Courthouse, is accused of breaking the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Act, which requires agents to register with the Secretary of State’s office and prohibits them from giving athletes anything of value before they sign a contract.
“I’m delighted that North Carolina has a tough statute,” Ross said. “I’m glad it’s being utilized. I think that will send a positive message. I think it would be great if other states would join us and move in this direction. I think it would be even better if professional leagues would punish sports agents who tamper with college athletes.”
He said professional sports leagues are in a better position to financially punish sports agents who provide college athletes with improper benefits than universities.
“It has to be a joint effort,” Ross said. “This is something we need to get under control. What happened at the Chapel Hill campus is not something we want to see happen again anywhere, at any campus, but it’s going to be hard for any individual institution to solve alone. It’s going to take a much broader effort.”
UNC Board of Governors Chairman Peter Hans added that Orange Count District Attorney Jim Woodall is doing the right thing by aggressively pursuing charges against Watson and former UNC tutor Jennifer Wiley Thompson, who was charged last week with four counts of athlete agent inducement for giving cash and gifts to Little and being reimbursed by Watson.
Little told the Secretary of State’s office that he used Thompson as a go-between so the NCAA couldn’t find a direct payment from Watson to Little.
“I applaud the district attorney for holding people accountable for breaking North Carolina’s laws, particularly these agents who lurk in the shadows, clearly not with the best interest of students at heart,” Hans said.