RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A prosecutor has dropped charges against a former UNC tutor who worked with Tar Heels football players for violating the state’s sports agent laws.
Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall said Thursday he dropped the four counts against Jennifer (Wiley) Thompson because she is cooperating with the investigation. A grand jury indicted her a year ago for providing benefits to former UNC football player Greg Little in 2010 to help Georgia-based agent Terry Watson sign Little.
Woodall says Thompson “is more important to us as a potential witness than as a defendant.” Each count of “athlete-agent inducement” was a low-level felony.
In a statement, attorney Joseph B. Cheshire V says that Thompson “can now begin to put all of this behind her.”
Watson and three others face charges in the case.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/ap-da-woodall-drops-charges-tutor
HILLSBOROUGH– Patrick Mitchell Jones of Cartersville, Ga. has become the third person indicted in the UNC football scandal.
This latest indictment was unsealed Monday morning. Jones was accused of persuading Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn to sign with sports agent Terry Watson. Jones did not comment after the hearing but will be hiring a lawyer in N.C. soon.
Jones’ bond was set at $20,000. And according to the indictment, Jones handed a third person $725 to aid Quinn.
Terry Watson and Jennifer Thompson, formerly Jennifer Wiley, are the other two indicted. You can read all the details here.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/jones-makes-third-charged-in-unc-football-scandal
ORANGE COUNTY – Orange and Chatham County District Attorney, Jim Woodall says a third person indicted on breaking the Uniformed Athlete Agents Act could make his or her first appearance in court Monday morning.
He says it is not confirmed that the court appearance will take place, but that he was told it might take place around 11:00 a.m.
Two people—former UNC tutor, Jennifer Thompson, and Georgia-based sports agent, Terry Watson—have already appeared in Hillsborough at the Orange County Courthouse on charges of breaking the UAAA. Five total indictments have been handed out.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/next-charged-in-unc-football-scandal-might-appear-monday
HILLSBOROUGH – Sports agent Terry Watson, the second to be indicted on felony charges related to the 2010 UNC football scandal, appeared in an Orange County courtroom Wednesday.
Watson, based-out of Georgia, faces 13 felony counts in violation of the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Act and one count of obstruction of justice, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.
Thirteen charges are for athlete-agent inducement related to gifts provided to former UNC football players Greg Little, Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin. He also faces one felony count of obstruction of justice. He faces a maximum of 15 months in jail for each of the athlete-agent related charges and a maximum of 30 months in jail for the obstruction charge.
Watson is next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 15, though Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said that could change.
Watson is alleged to have provided Little with $18,200 in cash between May 2010 and October 2010. Watson is also charged with providing Little with $683.24 for a hotel room and $1,574 for airline tickets.
Court documents cite that Watson allegedly provided Quinn with $100, $675.74 for a hotel room in Miami and $750 for airline tickets. Watson is also charged with providing Austin with $2,000.
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.
Last week, Jennifer Wiley Thompson, the former UNC tutor connected to the football program scandal, was the first to be indicted for allegedly violating the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Act. She was charged with agent-athlete inducement on four low-level felony counts.
An Orange County grand jury issued multiple indictments On Sept. 30, three of which remain under seal.
A courthouse official told WCHL that it’s unlikely Thompson and Watson will serve the maximum punishment if convicted.
The degree of their sentence depends on their prior record, and the official said most of these people probably don’t have much of a record, so they’re more likely to just get probation.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/agent-terry-watson-14-felony-charges-linked-to-unc-football-scandal
CHAPEL HILL – Jennifer Wiley, the former UNC tutor connected to the 2010 football program scandal, has been charged with violating a state law concerning sports agent- student athlete interaction.
Jennifer Lauren Thompson, known as Jennifer Wiley before her marriage, is charged with agent-athlete inducement on four low-level felony counts.
Thompson made a brief appearance in Orange County District Court on Thursday afternoon, and one of her lawyers, Elliot Sol Abrams, said this following the hearing:
“We would just remind everyone that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.”
Judge Lunsford Long presided over the hearing before an Orange County grand jury on Tuesday and immediately sealed the indictment documents.
“Mr. Cheshire [Wiley’s other lawyer] and I are not at all convinced that she has committed a crime,” Abrams said. “We look forward to reviewing the State’s case and meeting with Mr. Woodall to discuss these matters.”
Five people in total were indicted this week on charges related to the North Carolina Uniform Athletes Agents Act. District Attorney Jim Woodall hasn’t released the names of the other four.
Woodall said Thursday that no one ever has ever been charged under the Athlete Agent Act.
“What we all need to recognize is that this is new territory for everyone involved,” Abrams said. “No one has ever been charged with this crime. So, I think that this is something that the District Attorney’s office has continued to look into, and we have to continue to look into.”
Wiley’s indictment said that investigators found that she allegedly provided a round-trip airline ticket and delivered packages containing $2,000 and $150 cash for then UNC football player Greg Little in May 2010.
Investigators believe she did so in order to get Little to contact Terry Watson of the Georgia-based Watson Sports Agency.
Thompson was a tutor at UNC and was also found to have inappropriately helped a player, Michael McAdoo, with a paper in the African and Afro-American Studies Department.
North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall conducted the investigation that found Thompson had “extensive contact between Wiley and UNC-CH student athletes” and “direct contact between Wiley’s (phone) number and (sports agent) Peter Schaffer.”
“This has been a long and sad road for Jennifer,” Abrams said. “She is a wonderful person. She is a caring person. She’ll continue to act with decency, and she will maintain her dignity throughout this process.”
Wiley was placed under a $15,000 secured bond and is due in court again Oct. 15.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/former-unc-tutor-charged-with-violating-sports-agent-law
CHAPEL HILL – In the wake of academic and athletic scandals, UNC is now in a unique position to turn negatives into positives and re-write the role of athletics in university life. Provost Jim Dean, UNC’s chief academic officer, in his first months in the position, said the process of examining academic support to student athletes has already begun.
Dean took over as UNC’s provost on July 1, replacing Bruce Carney, who returned to the faculty after four years in the position. Carney, and former Chancellor Holden Thorp, led the university through tumultuous times in the midst of an NCAA investigation of the University’s football program, that subsequently revealed “irregularities” in the African and Afro-American Studies Department.
“It is clear that there are some areas where we haven’t done as well as we should have, and so what we want to make sure is that we really have a very thorough, rigorous framework that we can use for everything that we are doing with student athletes,” Dean said.
As former dean of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Dean watched as Carolina’s senior leadership dealt with the blows of the scandals. He said the controversies have been reported “thoroughly,” and as a result there may have been a misconception about how wide-reaching the academic scandals were.
“If you added up all of the things that people have talked about over the past few years, in terms of the number of people that it has touched, it is actually a really small number of people,” Dean said. “Again, I will emphasize that there’s 800 or so student athletes, and we are talking about a relative handful. If we are talking about courses, it is the same thing. If you are talking about faculty, we are talking about really, really small numbers in a university that has 30,000 students and 3,000 professors.”
Dean said in a few short months, he has forged a strong relationship with Carolina’s new batch of leaders, including Chancellor Carol Folt and Bubba Cunningham, now two years into his role as Director of Athletics. Together, the three have already begun work as the Student Athlete Academic Working Group.
“I think it is natural that when you have that many new people, we will come in and look around and say we have inherited a wonderful university, certainly one of the top universities in the country, but there’s always more that you can do and ways to make things better,” he said. “I do think that some of the problems we’ve had have inspired us to dig a little deeper and try a little harder to make sure that we are doing everything we can to live up to the standards of the university.”
Other members include Michelle Brown, who joined the University last spring as Director of the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes, and Stephen Farmer, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions. Dean said the group will also examine student athlete recruitment, admission and advising processes.
“It is important for me to say as Provost, I have a responsibility for the academic lives of all students, including all student athletes,” Dean said. “I am working closely with Bubba Cunningham as the Athletic Director, who has responsibility for the student athletes as athletes, and we have a great partnership that we are using to work together.”
Dean said the working group aims to build on recent progress made across campus in strengthening relationships between academics and athletics. Examples include the ongoing work of the Faculty Council’s Faculty Athletics Committee; the reorganization of and new leadership for the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, which now reports to Dean’s office; and the implementation of the new strategic plan in the athletics department, according to UNC’s website.
In a large scale operation such as UNC, Dean said it is impossible to control every aspect, but examining current processes is a starting place for improvement.
“Whenever you are dealing with people, you can’t really make any guarantees in any sphere of life. But really all well-run organizations have a way that they do things.”
In April, work also began on a college athletics round table discussion commissioned by Holden Thorp and led by Hunter Rawlings, President of the Association of American Universities. UNC asked the panel to make recommendations about the role of athletics in the life of a university, taking into account the recent challenges the university has faced. In ongoing discussions, the panel is covering the NCAA, presidential control, amateurism, the current context of the model for college athletics, and the role of faculty.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/top-unc-leaders-tackle-athleticacademic-relations
Guest Column by Barry Leffler
Butch Davis should remain the Head Football Coach at Carolina.
No school has ever been charged with its associate head coach and recruiting coordinator (John Blake) being a paid by an agent while on the university payroll. Since that is unprecedented, there is no telling what kind of sanctions will follow. Also, the academic fraud among players and accused tutor Jennifer Wiley being hired privately by Davis are serious sins in the eyes of the NCAA, according to reports.
It is time for UNC to take stock of its current position and begin planning for the future. The Ohio State model looks like a good one to emulate.
That’s my opinion on the UNC football scandal, what’s yours? Comment below.http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/davis-should-go-now