ORANGE COUNTY – Lately, all the focus has been on five indictments handed out on charges of breaking the Uniformed Athlete Agents Act (UAAA), but Orange and Chatham County District Attorney Jim Woodall says there are other ongoing investigations involving UNC.
“There is an ongoing investigation in the AFAM department,” Woodall says. “That’s been ongoing for a while.”
Former African and Afro-American Studies Department chair, Julius Nyang’oro was found to have conducted classes he didn’t actually teach. An external review of the department by former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin found that the problem dated back to 1997.
Woodall has not announced who he and the SBI have been investigating, but the question still lingers of whether Nyang’oro and other members of the AFAM department at UNC committed fraud by collecting paychecks from the University.
Wednesday, Georgia-based sports agent, Terry Watson had his first court appearance on 13 felony counts of breaking the UAAA with athlete-agent inducement and one court of obstruction of justice.
Last week, former UNC tutor, Jennifer Thompson appeared on four counts of athlete-agent inducement.
Woodall has said these five indictments are the first in the history of the UAAA that anyone can find. North Carolina adopted the law in 2003, and according to the NCAA website, as of 2010, 40 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands adhere to it. Three other states have non-UAAA laws in place to regulate agents.
Woodall says he can’t say for certain whether or not other states are likely to file similar charges.
“I think, because of what’s happened here, they’re certainly going to become more aware of this, and I think there are some states that know that we have information that we’d certainly share with them if they want to approach us about it,” Woodall says.
Wednesday the News and Observer published a story with the headline: ‘Orange DA adds staff to pursue sports agents…’
“That’s a very misleading headline,” Woodall says. “The DA’s office here has added no staff. I’m going to have a prosecutor who’s already been sworn in to work on this case; his name’s Mitch Gerrell—a longtime prosecutor from DurhamCounty. He’s going to be working on this case, but he’s not truly a member of my staff.”
Gerrell works for the North Carolina Conference of DAs as a special prosecutor to prosecute white-collar crimes. Woodall says his job is to assist DA offices in these types of cases and that’s just what he’ll be doing.
He says he’s also using the assistance of members of the Secretary of State’s office.
“There’s a statute that allows attorney’s from the Secretary of State’s office to be sworn in as assistant DAs to work on cases that the Secretary of State’s office has jurisdiction over,” Woodall says. “So, two of their attorneys are going to be sworn in as assistant district attorneys.”
He says while they will still be working for the Secretary of State’s office, they’ll work under the supervision of Woodall.
Secretary of State Elaine Marshall began this investigation three years ago since the UAAA states agents in North Carolina have to register with Marshall’s office. Woodall wasn’t brought into the investigation until about a year and a half later.
Now the waiting games continues for the remaining three indictments, and Woodall says it could still be a little while until we know who else is being charged.
“We’re waiting for other people to be served,” Woodall says. “That can be by them turning themselves in or them being served wherever they happen to be. I really don’t have a specific timeline on that; I think it will be over the next couple of weeks.”
For more on the charges against Terry Watson, click here.
For more on the charges against Jennifer Thompson, click here.