Agent investigation names UNC football money man
Posted March 11, 2013
Updated March 15, 2013
Chapel Hill, N.C. — An investigation into sports agents by the North Carolina Secretary of State found that a Georgia man sent cash to then-University of North Carolina football player Marvin Austin and other student-athletes nationwide, as well as tutor Jennifer Wiley.
"Terry Watson was a guy who gave me money," Austin told state investigators in reference to Terry Shawn Watson, of the Watson Sports Agency registered in Marietta, Georgia.
FedEx records back up Austin's claim that he got a package from Georgia sent by Watson associate Patrick Jones. In one instance, Austin stated that he received $2,000 in cash.
Records also confirm that packages were sent to an address belonging to Wiley, the tutor named for providing extra help to student-athletes, between January 2009 and June 2010. Wiley was also found to have paid for former UNC football player Greg Little's parking tickets and airline flights.
Austin was the first Tar Heel player targeted by the NCAA in the summer of 2010 for accepting impermissible benefits. In March 2012, the NCAA handed down a punishment vacating all of UNC's football wins from the 2008 and 2009 seasons and put the program on probation through March 2015.
Secretary of State Elaine Marshall initiated her investigation in July 2010. George Jeter, spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office, stressed that the probe focused only on sports agents, "not any schools or players."
State investigators seized digital and bank records and conducted interviews in tracking how agents operate in the state.
In a raid on Watson's office, authorities found documents and text messages showing reports of money wired into student-athlete bank accounts. As of Dec. 12, 2012, investigators were still combing through "numerous wire transfer records to and from UNC-CH student-athletes, their relatives, friends, and others associated with them."
"We saw the search warrants for the first time today and are reviewing them," UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. "It is not appropriate for anyone at the University to comment on the specifics of the Secretary of State¹s investigation of agent activity."
Jones told investigators he regularly sent packages of cash to players whom Watson was trying to recruit, including other players at UNC. NCAA records show Watson also had contact with UNC players Charles Brown, Kendrick Burney and Little.
Watson first contacted Austin as early as Dec. 3, 2009, and they made contact 34 times in a six month span. In a September 2010 interview with agents from the Secretary of State, Austin said that he and Watson "met over dinner at a steak restaurant." That meeting was prior to Watson becoming a registered sports agent in the state of North Carolina and is in violation of the North Carolina Uniform Athletes Agent Act.
Former UNC players Robert Quinn, Jordan Nix, Michael McAdoo, Deunta Williams also got packages from Watson, according to warrants released Monday. So did Todd Stewart, a man disassociated from the UNC football program for his links to agents.
The investigation found that Watson contacted Little, Williams, Burney, Brown and McAdoo no fewer than 731 times as a collective with "a minimum of 39" of those contacts being a violation.
Austin also pinpointed the same "Willie" from previous investigations as a contact and believed he was "a recruiter for Watson." Austin said that he met Watson through "Willie", subsequently found to be Willie Barley, Jr., of Miami. Austin also admitted that Barley came to the 2012 Spring game, the game where Austin first met A.J. Mochado, also known as A.J. The Jeweler.
In a text message, Watson told Chris Culliver, a San Francisco 49er who played football at Garner High and the University of South Carolina, "give me an account number and bank name so I can get u tomorrow." Watson subsequently advised Culliver to delete the messages.
Text messages also link Watson to Murray Pool of Raleigh, a man who apparently had access to Watson's bank accounts. Messages reference loans that Pool made to players.
Pool’s lawyer, in a letter to WRAL News, offered his side of the story, including the fact that Pool and his wife provided a home for Culliver during his college years. “Mr. Pool and his wife assisted Mr. Culliver because he had no other family support,” wrote attorney Michael W. Strickland of Raleigh.
Strickland acknowledged Pool lent money to both Watson and Culliver, and he explained both loans.
“Mr. Watson asked to borrow money from Mr. Pool for his business. Mr. Pool agreed, business loan documents were prepared and the loan proceeds check was deposited into Mr. Watson’s account. This is the reason why Mr. Pool had access to Mr. Watson’s account,” Strickland wrote.
“The only loan that Mr. Pool has ever made to a player is Mr. Culliver. After he left college, Mr. Pool provided an interest free loan to Mr. Culliver to purchase a car so that he would not have to pay the 14 percent interest rate charged by athlete financial planners,” Strickland continued.
Strickland noted that Pool is cooperating with the Secretary of State’s investigation. “He is not a target of that investigation and has had no involvement with Mr. Watson’s business nor has he ever acted as sports agent or provided any money to student athletes other than the assistance he provided Chris Culliver which was done with the knowledge and consent of the NCAA.”
Bank records also link Watson to hotel rooms purchased for UNC players Quinn and Nix.
During part of the time he was in contact with UNC football players, Watson wasn't even a legal agent in North Carolina. He attempted to register as an agent with the state, but his first check bounced.