North Carolina’s Austin meets with investigators in state agents probe

By Aaron Beard, AP
Friday, September 17, 2010

Austin meets with investigators in agent probe

RALEIGH, N.C. — Investigators from the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office have met with Tar Heels defensive tackle Marvin Austin as they probe whether the state’s sports agents laws have been broken.

Christopher Lyons, Austin’s attorney, confirmed that Austin met with investigators for several hours Friday.

“Beyond that he appeared and that he’s fully cooperating in the investigation, I’m not going to comment,” Lyons said.

Liz Proctor, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, declined to comment on the meeting.

Marshall’s office began its review shortly after the NCAA launched an investigation into the school’s football program in July. That probe initially focused on whether Austin and receiver Greg Little received improper benefits from agents, which led Marshall’s office to subpoena Austin earlier this month.

Violating the state’s agent laws, which require agents to register and prohibit them from offering gifts before a contract is signed, can lead to criminal or civil penalties.

The NCAA probe in Chapel Hill has since expanded to include possible academic misconduct involving a tutor.

Austin and Little were among 13 players who sat out the Tar Heels’ opening loss to LSU in Atlanta due to the NCAA inquiry. North Carolina had hoped to hear the status of several players during the off week that followed, but only tailback Shaun Draughn had been cleared as of Friday afternoon to play Saturday’s home opener against Georgia Tech.

The NCAA review at North Carolina was part of similar investigations launched at Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia over the summer.

Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus was declared ineligible for two games for accepting nearly $2,000 in improper benefits during two trips to Miami. South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders was also questioned by the NCAA about potential agent contact through attending a South Beach party, but he was suspended and later kicked off the team.

The NCAA suspended Georgia receiver A.J. Green four games for selling his Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000 to former North Carolina and Marshall defensive back Chris Hawkins, whom the NCAA ruled qualified as an agent. North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour said Hawkins, who had been seen around the team’s facility periodically in recent years, is no longer welcome around the program.

Hawkins has a pending felony drug charge from a 2009 traffic stop in Georgia and is scheduled to be in court next month.

Associated Press Writer Mike Baker contributed to this report.

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