EAGLES EXTRAS: NCCU touched by UNC sports-agents scandal

Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:21 PM
By the time Henry Frazier III was hired in December 2010 to coach the N.C. Central University football team, the NCAA already was into its investigation about improper relationships between sports agents and football players at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Prior to the current football season, NCCU athletics director Ingrid Wicker-McCree announced that Frazier had been fired due to reoccurring issues in his personal life regarding his ex-wife.
However, not long into Frazier’s stint at NCCU, he expressed that he didn’t have much reason to believe that any Eagles football players were dealing under the table with sports agents, because the school just didn’t have that type of talent.
Yet two of Frazier’s players from the 2012 NCCU football team attracted NFL eyes.
Over the summer, former NCCU nose guard John Drew worked out for some NFL teams, including the Detroit Lions. Former NCCU defensive tackle Xavier Proctor is on the Lions’ practice squad.
So maybe there was a reason for sports agents to hang around NCCU, and Frazier acknowledged as much, saying that his Eagles were reminded to keep their noses clean.
“Our compliance department does an excellent job in talking to the student-athletes and keeping them abreast of the trends, as well as the rules. I think we’ll be OK in that area, but we can’t ignore it,” Frazier said.
As it turned out, former NCCU quarterback Michael Johnson, in conjunction with former UNC football player Greg Little, accepted a plane ticket for a Memorial Day trip to Miami in 2010. The ticket was linked to Georgia-based sports agent Terry Watson.
“The NCAA alerted us of a possible amateurism violation regarding a trip Michael Johnson took with his childhood friend Greg Little,” said Kyle Serba, NCCU’s associate athletics director for media relations. “We conducted an internal investigation, filed a secondary violation with the NCAA and requested Michael’s reinstatement, which was granted by the NCAA.”
On Wednesday, Johnson, who also quarterbacked at Hillside High School, was at the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough getting charged for breaking state law regarding his role in the football scandal at UNC.
“In 2010, we were made aware of a possible violation regarding Michael Johnson that was specific to NCAA policies guiding student-athletes,” Serba said. “In accordance with NCAA rules and regulations, the university complied fully. A request for Mr. Johnson’s reinstatement was granted by the NCAA.”
Johnson is accused of violating the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Agents Act, which prohibits giving money to college athletes in order to get them to sign with sports agents. He is believed to have set up meetings in 2010 wherein Watson gave Little around $5,000.
The charge against Johnson is a low-level felony. A conviction could mean probation since he doesn’t have a criminal record.
Some talented athletes are coming through NCCU these days. Former NCCU basketball player Dominique Sutton was in the NBA Development League last season. Former NCCU guard Ray Willis is among a few former NCCU basketball players who are playing professionally either here in the states or overseas.
Wicker-McCree, the NCCU’s athletics director, said some student-athletes at NCCU believe that they have the skill set to play pro ball, so addressing the matter of improper dealings with sports agents is imperative.
It’s a good thing that some of NCCU’s student-athletes are making it to the professional ranks, Wicker-McCree said.
“But we’re also going to stay within the North Carolina laws and regulations, as well as the NCAA, with regard to agents,” Wicker-McCree said.