Latest UNC documents detail free jewelry, trips, relationships
Posted November 5, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Documents released Monday by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reveal insight into the relationships and benefits that ended up earning a postseason ban for the Tar Heel football program.
Players saw no problem accepting flights, hotel rooms, club admission and even jewlery from men they described as friends. They even discussed selling their game-worn gear.
Former UNC defensive end Robert Quinn told NCAA investigators in the summer of 2010 that he was given a pair of black diamond earrings and two watches, one with black diamonds, by "AJ the Jeweler" in a meeting arranged in Chapel Hill by Marvin Austin.
When asked about a text message exchange with "AJ the Jeweler," also known as AJ Machado based in Miami, Quinn said, "He said all this is real stuff, so I'm curious about, you know, what, what they're actually worth. I mean, I didn't, since I didn't have to pay for them."
Quinn said that he met Machado just once, and that he looked at the jewelry as a gift that would be repaid with future business once he went professional.
Quinn referenced reports that he'd be a high pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, saying, "He just figure I'll come back to him and spend, blessing of God, I make a couple million, I'll spend a million."
The transcript of an interview between Quinn and NCAA investigators delineates a Facebook exchange Quinn had with former UNC football player Chris Hawkins about selling his game-worn uniform items.
In a January 2010 message to Quinn, Hawkins wrote, "If you're looking to make some cash, I have a guy that will buy game-worn jerseys and helmets for $750 a jersey and $850 a helmet, as many as you want to sell next year during the season ... If you need anything, hit me up. I can make sure you're well taken care of in college."
The following day, Quinn replied by saying, "I think I might have a jersey for you back home, laugh out loud, even the pants I wore, but I got, I don't got a helmet."
On Feb. 24, 2010, the men talked price:
Hawkins wrote: "Cleats and gloves, like $150.00."
Quinn: "Seven hundred fifty jersey, $1,000.00 helmet, $500.00 pants, cleats, gloves. You said this. So if you can give - so if you can give some pants it will be $500.00 with the cleats and gloves."
Hawkins: "Yeah, that means $500.00 for all together."
Quinn: "My bad. Sorry if I sounded money-hungry, but I'm a broke college student, laugh out loud. So pants, cleats ND gloves for $500.00. I'm gone shoot you a text."
Following the exchange, Quinn said that the gear was for "Willie's basement," referring to Willie Parker, but that he never actually gave the clothing to Hawkins.
As a result of the NCAA investigation, Quinn was ruled permanently ineligible for the 2010 football season because of $5,642 worth of gifts he received from agents and Hawkins was ordered to stay away from UNC players and the program.
Throughout their interviews with the NCAA, Tar Heel players said that they thought the gifts and trips they had received were OK because they were coming from friends, that their education about the limits on such gifts was lacking and that they lied to the NCAA to protect their futures, according to un-redacted documents released Monday.
Players laid out trips, benefits
In an interview with the NCAA, former UNC wide receiver Greg Little detailed relationships with agent Peter Schaffer and financial adviser Marty Blazer, whom he met at a draft party for former UNC wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Little described federal wire transfers, one in the amount of $500, that Little believed were coming from Nicks.
”You don’t find that odd that every time a federal wire transfer comes through, that you’ve been talking to Marty Blazer?” Little was asked.
Former defensive end Austin told NCAA investigators that going to UNC "was, like, the best business decision."
Austin also said his former high school coach Todd Amis paid for his MacBook and for trips to California where he trained and saw former agent Gary Wichard.
Little said that he felt that the education he had received from UNC about accepting benefits was minimal, something the university refuted. The university, in its response to the NCAA Notice of Allegations, provided education examples and policies.
“The rules education I received was very vague and open ended,” Little said. “That is not to excuse my behavior … However I never grasped the full understanding of the rules regarding accepting gifts and do not recall any information relative in relation to such as mine with Hakeem Nicks being discussed.”
When asked if he thought if it was okay to accept trips and benefits from NFL players Vontae and Vernon Davis, Austin said, "I was gonna ask them would it be okay because I've known these guys for damn near 10 years?"
Austin began his two-and-a-half hour interview by saying that he believed the NCAA was conducting the interview because of the strength of UNC's Class of 2011.
"I think we got a lot of players on our team who are high-caliber players, who can possibly be drafted next year," he said. "You're just trying to make sure that nothing illegal is going on."
By the end of the interview, a worried Austin asked if what he has told them would be a violation and if it would jeopardize his career.
"Like is it an NCAA violation for them to ..." Austin said. "Would it threaten me being able to play next season?"
Little recalled a trip to the Bahamas with his girlfriend that was paid for by Nicks and arranged by a woman named Mariana and admitted to receiving earrings from Nicks and said that he provided inaccurate information to the NCAA in an interview. When asked why, Little said, “I was really afraid of the outcome of what might or could happen if I had given that information.”
Little said he came clean at the advice of his legal counsel.
“The uncertainty of my future was very discomforting and very hard to deal with,” Little said. “With putting this tremendous threat on my future I understand that the truth would set me free.”
Little said that he had no knowledge that the earrings he received from Nicks was a violation “but after understanding the value of the item I became very afraid of what could happen.”
D.C. connection linked UNC, NFL
According to the documents, Todd Stewart, of Pro Sports Financial, was found to have given over $6,200 in improper benefits to three UNC players. In an interview with the NCAA, Stewart, who played football at the University of Maryland, described Marvin Austin as “a big brother.” Stewart said he knew Austin from the time he was in junior high and that the two spoke “pretty often.”
He also touted his relationships with NFL players. He listed "William Joseph at the Raiders, E.J. Henderson, Erin Henderson (brothers who play defense for the Minnesota Vikings), probably Vontae (Davis) and Vernon (Davis)" as close friends with whom he had traveled.
Stewart admitted that he gave “probably $200” to Austin and that he booked flights and hotel rooms for the former UNC defensive end with the idea of getting reimbursed. He insisted in the interview, however, that he didn’t get any financial assistance from agents or their representatives.
“People look at me like I’m a piece of … a possibility of helping get them close to other people,” Stewart said.
Throughout the interview with the NCAA, Stewart verbally suggested he was worried about implicating himself and damaging his relationship with the players. He said, “Marvin the only reason why I’m here because I don’t wanna get clipped at a light one day because somebody feel like I mess this boy career up.”
Stewart detailed parties with Vontae and Vernon Davis that Austin and Little attended and a May party at the home of current NFL running back and former University of Miami player Frank Gore. The night of the party at Gore’s, Stewart said that Austin and Little were flown to Miami and stayed at a hotel that Vontae Davis had arranged for. Stewart also details a trip that former UNC player Robert Quinn attended.
Austin acknowledged the trips and parties in his interview with the NCAA, but he characterized it as friends looking out for each other. "My homeboy, Vontae. It was his birthday party," Austin said.