SI.com's Stewart Mandel tweeted that the situation appears to be serious. Apparently the NCAA has been compiling evidence "for months"
Darren Heitner at the Sporting Agent Blog says the investigation has included the NCAA talking to 13 players and alleges there were some fairly expensive gifts in play.
So when Joe Schad tells the world that there is a serious NCAA investigation taking place at UNC, sports agents who may be affected should begin to contact their attorneys. Schad notes that Defensive tackle Marvin Austin was a football player who was interviewed. I have a source who tells me that Austin was only 1 of 13 players who have been interviewed – this is far reaching. And it does not only extend to a number of players. The same source tells me that there are a lot of agents that may have dirty hands, including both NFLPA Certified Advisors and marketing agents. Some are being examined more than others.
It is apparently beyond just in-person meetings, rent payments, and travel expenses. We are potentially talking about all expenses paid trips to South Beach, exorbitant amounts of money dropped on accessories, and perhaps even a Bentley or two.
Let me stress this is from unnamed sources and I have no idea who this guy is or how much credibility he has. It has been noted on the message boards that Marvin Austin's social networking presence might have been the tip-off. His Twitter and Facebook accounts are now gone which is not a proclamation of guilt but it does not look good.
[UPDATE](Doc): Darren Heitner is a 25 year-old D-list agent who mainly represents pro bowlers and a bunch of minor-league baseball and basketball players you've never heard of. But he does write the blog THF linked above and is somehow considered an expert on agent affairs despite the fact he is not as old as some of Drew Rosenhaus' hair gel. His blog post above says he has talked to one source, or roughly the equivalent of what 100 other guys have said on the IC message boards.
The general feel now is that the crux of all this is whether or not Austin or any of the other potential draftees accepted any improper benefits from the bevy of agents who apparently infested Chapel Hill this spring. NCAA rules are byzantine and I wouldn't begin to presume what is legal or not under those rules. The NCAA was left with a lot of egg on its face after the Reggie Bush fiasco and I would not be surprised to see them try to drop the hammer on an otherwise clean program like UNC.
During my senior year at UNC, my girlfriend lived in the same apartment building with Natrone Means. There was some question that winter as to whether or not Means would return for his senior season. One day, I saw Nate pull up in a new sports car and get out wearing a leather jacket and I said, "well, I guess that answers that question." Nowadays it's not quite so easy to tell.
At this point, based on the speculation, this looks very serious. How serious and what the consequences will be is completely unknown at this point. Given the proximity of the coming football season I would assume this will be wrapped up sooner rather than later since it involves current players. Or worse, UNC will have to sit any tainted players until the NCAA figures out what happened. In either case, I think the upcoming season which was so full of promise is going to take a hit on some level.