Former player: Agent gave him cash
Former UNC football player Marvin Austin told special investigators probing allegations that UNC players received impermissible benefits that he received $2,000 from a Georgia-based sports agent while a member of the Tar Heel football team.
Austin, who was dismissed from the UNC team in 2010 and now plays for the New York Giants, told investigators in September 2010, that the agent, Terry Watson, gave him the cash as an incentive to sign a contract with his agency.
The N.C. Secretary of State’s Securities Division launched the investigation in July 2010 to determine if registered agents or persons acting as agents violated the state’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA) by providing impermissible benefits to members of the UNC football team.
Search warrants not made public until Monday show that A.H. Jones, a special investigator with the Secretary of State, searched Watson’s bank account at Wells Fargo, money transfer transactions he made through Western Union.
Jones also searched all records related to the recruitment of student athletes on Watson’s Apple Mac Book Pro laptop, turning up the names or several UNC football players in addition to Austin’s, including former Hillside High School and UNC standout Greg Little, now with the Cleveland Browns.
“The search of Watson’s computer revealed additional evidence Watson sent cash to student athletes via wire transfers; FedEx packages; and Priority Mail in violation of the UAAA,” Jones wrote in the warrants.
Additionally, the search found that Watson sent former UNC tutor Jennifer Wiley a package on Oct. 7, 2010.
Wiley has been accused of providing players with impermissible help on their school work and reportedly paid for Little’s flight change on a Bahamas trip and $1,789 in outstanding parking ticket he racked up while at UNC.
Meanwhile, UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said he saw the warrants for the first time today and ia reviewing them.
“It is not appropriate for anyone at the University to comment on the specifics of the Secretary of State's investigation of agent activity,” Cunningham said.
The search warrants showed that Watson did not work alone. He used helpers to facilitate cash payments and other impermissible benefits to football players.
Those helpers, Willie Barley and Patrick Jones, are also accused of violating the UAAA by providing players with impermissible benefits such as hotel rooms, transportation and other such gifts.
Jones admitted to investigators that he is a long-time friend of Watson’s and confessed to sending FedEx packages containing cash to student athletes at Watson’s request.
“Jones stated this was the only way Watson could compete with the bigger Athlete Agents and their companies,” Jones wrote.
Watson’s telephone records show a man passionately in pursuit of UNC’s young star football players, revealing a courtship that produced several hundred calls to five athletes between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010.
Investigators said 39 of the contacts were in violation of the UAAA, with the most serious being contact with Austin and former player Michael McAdoo because they occurred before Watson was legally registered in North Carolina as an agent.
Watson’s contact with Austin began as early as Dec. 3, 2009, and with McAdoo as early as January 13, 2010. His application to become a registered agent in the state wasn’t approved until April 2010.
“He began contacting UNC-CH student athletes almost 5 months prior to applying for registration which is a clear violation of the Act,” Jones said in one the search warrants.