Warrant: UNC's Little got $20K payoff
Posted September 5, 2013
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — Investigators in North Carolina say a Georgia-based sports agent violated sports agent laws by providing more than $20,000 in cash and benefits to former Tar Heels receiver Greg Little in 2010.
In a search warrant unsealed this week, an agent with the Secretary of State's office said Little told investigators that Terry Watson of the Watson Sports Agency provided him with a monthly cash allowance of $2,200 in addition to travel expenses and other payments.
Little, now with the Cleveland Browns, also reimbursed former tutor Jenifer Wiley for expenses paid on his behalf with money received from Watson or a financial adviser, according to a probable cause affidavit in the June search warrant.
While the NCAA investigation is closed, authorities are still reviewing whether laws regulating sports agents were broken.
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said he is considering criminal charges under the state's Uniform Athletes Agents Act. By law, agents must register with the Secretary of State's office, and the law is designed to shield athletes from sports agents who would offer gifts to entice them to sign representation contracts.
It is a Class I felony to violate the law, meaning a maximum prison sentence of 15 months, and violations also could carry civil penalties of up to $25,000.
Woodall said he knows of no other state that has used a similar statute to charge an agent with a crime.
The warrant sought Wiley's financial records from January 2009 to December 2010. She was linked to academic misconduct violations involving several UNC football players during an NCAA investigation that began in 2010, as well as providing improper financial benefits to Little.
Her attorney, Joseph B. Cheshire V of Raleigh, defended Wiley as a "sweet, naive and caring person."
"Neither Ms. Wiley nor I have any comment to what is an old story, one repeated ad nauseum that needs to be allowed to die the death it deserves," Cheshire told WRAL News.
Watson didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press to his Marietta, Ga.-based office Thursday. In search warrants unsealed in March, investigators said Watson also made cash payments to former UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin.
Little met with investigators in January and said he was "ready for this chapter of his life to be over and to get on with his life on a clean slate," according to the affidavit. During the interview, he said Wiley received several financial payments from Watson and forwarded them to Little.
Little was declared permanently ineligible by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits in October 2010, while Austin was dismissed from the team. Neither played all season and were among 14 Tar Heels that missed at least one game that year amid the NCAA probe.
The NCAA hit the program with a one-year bowl ban in March 2012 — which kept the Tar Heels out of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game last fall — as well as a reduction of 15 scholarships over a three-year period and probation.
Steve Kirshner, a spokesman for the UNC athletics department, said the university would have no comment on the revelations or the progress of the case.
After her office launched its probe in summer 2010, North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said the focus was not on athletes or schools but on the agents or anyone that provided athletes with items of value.