ORANGE COUNTY – Orange and Chatham District Attorney, Jim Woodall, says the charges against former UNC tutor Jennifer Lauren Wiley Thompson—commonly know during the investigation of the UNC football team as Jennifer Wiley—are likely the first of this nature handed out in the state and possibly the first in the nation.
“I’m about 99-percent sure in North Carolina, because we’ve not heard of anyone else doing it,” Woodall says. “And, I think if anyone else had done it, it would have gone through the Secretary of State’s office. And, we can’t find anywhere in the country that has indicted anyone under the Uniform Agents Act.”
Thompson is charged with four counts of athlete agent inducement.
Four other indictments have been handed out. Woodall says those records will remain sealed until the defendants have been served. At that time, a court date will be set.
Woodall says he was aware of the investigation by the Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall, that took more than three years, but he says didn’t get involved until about a year-and-a-half ago. He says the reason the investigation lasted so long was the sheer amount of information to go through as well as a few snags along the way.
“The Secretary of State’s office had to go to court to get information from the NCAA,” Woodall says. “There was information that the NCAA had that they did not voluntarily turn over. There were several court hearings that were required to get that information, and that took several months.”
An additional hiccup in the investigation came early on when the agent that was being investigated, California-based Gary Wichard, died about a year-and-a-half into the investigation and therefore could no longer be charged. The investigation has since found that Georgia-based agent, Terry Watson, was also involved. Investigators found that Watson sent $2,000, $150, and two round-trip airline tickets to Thompson who in turn passed the money along to former UNC football player Greg Little. The money was meant to entice Little to contact Watson and use him as an agent.
The Uniform Athlete Agent Act has been adopted by 40 states, including North Carolina, and says any agent must register with the state—specifically the Secretary of State in most cases—in order to act as an agent. Watson was registered in Georgia as a member of the Watson Sports Agency. The UAAA is designed to shield athletes from sports agents who would offer gifts to entice them to sign representation contracts while competing on the college level.
“Any time you have a law on the book—if it’s something that’s reasonable and it’s something that makes sense—if you have evidence that it’s been violated—and I do think we have evidence of violation—then I think it’s our duty to proceed and go forward on those kinds of cases,” Woodall says.
Wiley was placed under a $15,000 secured bond and is due in court again Oct. 15.