Indictment: Tutor served as liaison between agent, UNC football player
Posted October 3, 2013
Updated October 4, 2013
Hillsborough, N.C. — A former University of North Carolina tutor became the first person to appear in court Thursday on charges she violated state laws that regulate how agents may interact with student athletes.
Jennifer Lauren Wiley Thompson is one of five people indicted earlier this week on charges related to the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Agents Act. She is one of 10 people found by the NCAA to have provided impermissible benefits – both academic and financial – to members of the UNC football team.
"This is a new law that that has questionable applicability to these facts and no one should judge the truth based on this or any grand jury indictment," Wiley's attorney Joe Chesire said in a statement Thursday. "She has been pursued and harassed for years and paid a great price for being a good hearted naive young person who tried to help people. We shall see the truth, but people should keep an open mind about her case."
Wiley's indictment, which was unsealed Thursday, shows investigators found she purchased a round-trip airline ticket for then-UNC football player Greg Little in May 2010. Later that year, Wiley delivered packages to Little containing $2,000 and $150 cash. Investigators allege Wiley gave gifts to Little in attempts to persuade him to contract with sports agent Terry Watson of the Georgia-based Watson Sports Agency.
District Attorney Jim Woodall said Thursday that nobody, in North Carolina or nationwide, has ever been charged under the athlete-agent act, that he knows of. Wiley, who faces four felony charges that each carry a maximum of 15 months in jail, has an authorized released upon payment of a $15,000 secured bond. She is due in court again Oct. 15.
"I am very concerned about the legal and/or factual basis for this indictment against Jennifer," Chesire said. "We will be reviewing the discovery carefully for statements that give any credence to the allegations. As well we have serious doubts as to the applicability of this law to this situation."
The university was sanctioned by the NCAA in March 2012 after an almost two-year long investigation that showed that seven players had received $27,097.38 in gifts, cash and trips.
North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall followed up the NCAA investigation with one of her own, under the auspices of a law that requires sports agents to register with the Secretary of State, and prohibits them from providing “anything of value” to a student-athlete not under contract or initiating contact with a student-athlete.
Those who violate the law can be charged with a felony and may also be subject to civil penalties, including a fine of up to $25,000 and paying damages to a school that loses eligible student-athletes.
In the course of the criminal investigation, agents with the Secretary of State’s office searched Wiley’s phone records – finding “extensive contact between Wiley and UNC-CH student athletes” and “direct contact between Wiley’s number and (sports agent) Peter Schaffer.”
In a search warrant application for her bank records, Secretary of State Special Agent A.H. Jones wrote, “Since Wiley is not a student athlete there does not appear to be a reasonable explanation for her to be in direct contact with agents and financial advisors.”
UNC told the NCAA that Wiley provided too much help with players’ school work and paid about $3,500 worth of parking and plane tickets for the players she worked with.
As a result, the university banned Wiley, a UNC graduate, from further helping student athletes, having contact with them or entering any campus athletic facilities.
Wiley’s lawyer, Joseph B. Cheshire V, has said she didn’t know what she was doing was wrong, saying, "She has suffered a lot for having a big heart.”
Nyang’oro investigation still pending
Wiley is also connected to a second, on-going investigation at UNC by the Secretary of State.
She helped player Michael McAdoo with portions of a paper he turned in for what was revealed to be a no-show class in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, a paper later found to be largely lifted from other sources. McAdoo’s work, which he used as evidence when he sued to be reinstated to the football team, shone a light on that department and especially then-Chairman Julius Nyang’oro and his administrator, Deborah Crowder.
A university review of courses in the department found independent study classes with minimal professor-student interaction and 59 instances between 2007-09 where grades were submitted with forged signatures of professors.
Woodall and the SBI have yet to determine whether Nyang’oro and Crowder, both of whom have left the university, defrauded UNC by collecting pay for classes that instructors didn't teach.
Others indictments will yield more detail
An Orange County grand jury on Monday issued multiple indictments, but they remain under seal. Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall has said he believes North Carolina is the first state to bring criminal charges related to athlete-agent contact.
In December 2010, UNC released a list of names, including Wiley’s, of people known to have provided benefits to football players.
• Former UNC football players Omar Brown, Mahlon Carey and Hakeem Nicks
• Former Maryland football player Vernon Davis
• Sports agent Christopher Hawkins
• Michael Katz, director of marketing and client services for Rosenhaus Sports
• Florida-based jeweler A.J. Machado
• Todd Stewart, who has been tied to Pro Sports Financial
UNC Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Leslie Strohm also noted other organizations and people who may have provided benefits. They are: Rosenhaus Sports, Pro Sports Financial, Vernon Davis’ brother Vontae Davis, Chris Hawkins' business partner Martin Blazer, former UNC player Kentwan Balmer and agent Gary Wichard, since deceased.