Georgia realtor charged for gifts to UNC football player
Posted October 14, 2013
Hillsborough, N.C. — The employee of a Georgia real estate agency is the third person to be indicted in a North Carolina investigation of sports agents.
Patrick Mitchell Jones, of 121 Luckie St. in Cartersville, Ga., is charged with one count of athlete-agent inducement. According to court documents unsealed Monday, Jones provided $725 to someone named Constance Orr as a gift to defensive end Robert Quinn.
When asked, Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall could not say who Orr was or how she was connected to Quinn or Jones.
Jones denied any connection to Quinn Monday, saying he was "totally caught off guard" by the charge. "I wouldn't know him if he walked through the door," Jones said of Quinn, who is in his third season with the St. Louis Rams.
A grand jury in Orange County handed up indictments against multiple people last week. Former UNC tutor Jennifer Wiley Thompson and Watson, an agent based in Georgia, have already had their first court appearances, and more are to come.
Woodall said he believes North Carolina is the first state to file criminal charges against those who would illegally influence student athletes.
UNC leaders have had little to say about the agent investigation.
"Our hope is that the actions taken by the district attorney will encourage and promote proper behavior by agents, advisors, student-athletes and anyone who comes in contact with students in matters related to representation," said Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham.
North Carolina state law requires that sports agents 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. They may also have to pay damages to a school that loses eligible student-athletes.
Thompson faces four felony counts that she provided cash packages and airfare to then-Tar Heels football player Greg Little in attempts to get the wide receiver to sign with Watson.
Watson faces a total of 14 felony counts, 13 of them for alleged gifts provided to former UNC football players Marvin Austin, Quinn and Little. He also faces one felony count of obstruction of justice.
Watson faces a maximum of 15 months in jail for each of the 13 athlete-agent related charges and a maximum of 30 months in jail for the obstruction charge.
"The reason for the act is to try to deter agents and people working for agents, inducing athletes who have eligibility left, from signing contracts because then they lose their eligibility," Woodall said. "We don't focus on the players or a specific institution, we're focused on the agents or the people who worked on behalf of agents."
The University of North Carolina 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.
In December 2010, UNC released a list of names, of people known to have provided benefits to football players. In addition to Thompson, the list includes:
- 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.