Despite NC State efforts, Leak continues contact with Pack players
Posted November 4, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Eric Leak’s 31-yard touchdown catch in 1998 to help the North Carolina State University football team defeat a heavily favored Florida State team is what many Wolfpack fans remember about the former wide receiver. Now, the university does not permit Leak to even set foot on campus.
In late October, Leak was given a “no trespass” letter after his wife, Emily, had her car ticketed twice outside the football facility. While it is not clear who was driving the car, it is not the first time Leak has appeared on the NC State compliance department’s radar.
In 2011, NC State sent a disassociation letter to Leak for violating NCAA rules by loaning a car to then-NC State basketball player CJ Leslie. He also admitted at the time that he provided $1,349 worth of benefits to Wolfpack basketball player Tracy Smith.
The disassociation letter banned Leak and his wife from communicating with NC State athletes or anyone else in the department for 10 years, but it carries little enforcement power.
“Mainly what they're doing is covering their fanny,” said Steve Logan, former East Carolina head coach. “That's all NC State is doing: No. 1 what they have to do, what they should do from their point of view.”
While Leak said he is honoring the spirit of the disassociation letter, a three-month WRAL News investigation found he had plenty of continued contact with NC State athletes.
Leak declined an on-camera interview, but in a lengthy conversation with WRAL Investigates, he said he had contact with NC State cornerback David Amerson in 2012.
The contact, which NC State also confirmed, was not ruled an NCAA violation, but was a violation of the terms of Leak’s disassociation from the program.
“Eric Leak was notified by NC State that he is not to have contact with our current and future student-athletes in all sports for any purpose during the period of disassociation,” NC State officials said in a statement in September 2012. “This ban extends to all forms of in-person contact and all known or future methods of communication. It appears that Eric Leak is in violation of this letter."
“Is it realistic to think a university can keep away overzealous boosters? Not really,” said long-time ACC beat writer and WRALSportsFan columnist Caulton Tudor. “I mean, that's been going on since the 1920s.”
In a recent statement, NC State said it is doing all it can.
“Through the disassociation, the referral to the Secretary of State and the trespass letter, NC State has actively distanced NC State Athletics and student athletes from Eric and Emily Leak,” the statement read.
Leak said he was friends with Amerson and Leslie before the ban. After the disassociation, he claims he provided no improper benefits, but didn't write them off either.
“You can't just stop a relationship," Leak said.
Neighbors of a property in Raleigh owned by Emily Carter, Leak’s wife, said they often saw Leslie coming and going – both during and after his playing days at NC State. They complained of loud parties at the townhome possibly involving NC State athletes.
When confronted with the information of Leslie sightings on his property, Leak only concedes that it is possible, but not while he was there.
Leak said Leslie had the garage code to get in.
A collection of cars
According to an October 2013 tax record in Wake County, Leslie, who was cut by the New York Knicks of the NBA just last week, co-owns a newly purchased Land Rover with Leak.
Tax records show the Leaks own about $500,000 in cars, including a $131,000 Maserati, a Porsche and a Jaguar.
Leak also has car connections with Amerson. He admitted he loaned Amerson, who was still enrolled as a student at NC State at the time, a brand-new Porsche Cayenne.
Amerson was stopped for speeding in that same car on Jan. 3, just three days after the Wolfpack’s bowl game - and before any public report of Amerson declaring for the NFL Draft.
“You have to be careful with the choices you make, because you don't want to jeopardize your career,” now-Washington Redskins cornerback Amerson said before the start of the season.
Asked about Leak, Amerson described him as “a good guy and has good intentions. Definitely just an all-around good person.”
Guilford County tax records reveal Leak and Amerson now co-own a Land Rover and a Porsche - each purchased in June. Amerson, who signed a four-year, $3.85 million deal with the Redskins in May, has even posted a video online of himself with a Porsche.
Business beyond the field
Leak also has a business relationship with Leslie, Amerson and other former Wolfpack players through a sports management company called Hot Shot Sports.
Leak said he has eight players under contract, none of them from NC State. He said Hot Shot Sports is more of a hobby and love than a business.
Registered to his wife Emily, but run by Leak, Hot Shot Sports promoted autograph signings for charity earlier this year. There are also dedicated web pages that tag the individual players as “Hot Shot” athletes. WRAL found those same references on the website for Atlas Sports Agency, which represents Amerson.
Atlas owner J.T. Johnson, based in Gadsden, Ala., said Hot Shot provides some day-to-day services for players, like house hunting and bill paying.
Johnson told WRAL that Leak played no role in steering Amerson to the agency.
Leak said he serves as a mentor to Amerson and other pros, often dealing with teams, agents and day-to-day player needs. He argued that he has no business relationship with Amerson or Leslie. “I have not made a dime on them," he said.
Johnson's take is different. He said Amerson and others pay Leak for the services.
While the NCAA has ruled in the past that "once a student-athlete, always a student-athlete," when it comes to accepting gifts from boosters, proving a violation occurred is a tall order. Still, that doesn't take the pressure off.
“Most of the time, if it looks suspicious, there's a smell test,” Tudor said. “If it doesn't smell exactly right, it's enough to get the school worried. And in this case, NC State is worried.”
The money source
Leak and his wife run two mental health counseling businesses.
They are the listed owners of E Squared Community Services, which billed patients for $1.2 million in 2010 and saw a big drop the following year. At the same time, they were involved in Nature's Reflections. Billing there soared simultaneously with E Squared’s decline.
The second company climbed to at $7.2 million in net revenue in 2012 - the same year the Leaks became the sole owners.
This past summer, the Leaks received a letter from the state alleging they billed Medicaid for services not provided. The state conducted an audit on E-Squared and ordered them to repay $490,000.
They reached a deal with the state and agreed to repay more than $360,000.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson has informed WRAL that Nature's Reflections is currently under investigation.