The latest in the long line of news items that seem to keep popping up despite the NCAA investigation into UNC football being concluded over a year ago. UNC recently sent another round of disassociation letters to individuals indicted in conjunction with the Secretary of State's probe into agent activity. In addition to those letters, UNC officially severed all ties with former players Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin and Greg Little.
From the Associated Press via USA Today
North Carolina has sent letters of "permanent disassociation" to former Tar Heels football players Marvin Austin, Greg Little and Robert Quinn for NCAA violations that led to criminal charges against five people for violating the state's sports agent law.
The letters dated Nov. 15 prohibit the players from contacting current UNC athletes, bar them from the Kenan Football Center or other campus athletic facilities, and prohibit them from providing recruiting or financial assistance for athletics.
The players missed the 2010 season for accepting improper benefits, including cash and travel accommodations. That led to NCAA sanctions against the program and recent charges against five people for violating the state's Uniform Athlete Agents Act.
The school released the letters Tuesday in response to public-records requests from media outlets.
North Carolina also recently sent letters to four of the five people charged barring them from having any contact with UNC athletes or the school's athletic program. Those letters were sent to: Georgia-based agent Terry Watson, Watson associate Patrick Jones, Watson employee Willie Barley and Little's longtime friend Michael Johnson — now an employee of Rosenhaus Sports Representation, which lists Little as a client.
The letters to those individuals now facing charges for violating North Carolina's Uniform Athlete Agent Act makes perfect sense. They were not discovered as part of the original NCAA investigation but since UNC is aware of their existence and action, it is likely standard procedure to send the letters.
What is less clear is why UNC has now decided to permanently disassociate from the three players the NCAA banned in the fall of 2010. In all likelihood this is part of the standard procedure on the part of the school. It is a bit of a mystery as to why it happened now and not two years ago. The recent revelations, which has dredged all of this sordid business back up, may have served as a catalyst for issuing the letters now. It is also plausible the new regime is making sure all the loose ends are wrapped up with a nice little bureaucratic bow on them.
In practical terms it also doesn't really change much. Austin and Little in particular were already personae non gratae. While they were not officially disassociated, they were for all intents and purposes. Quinn, however, has never been perceived in the same light as Little and Austin. While the other two were seen as arrogant showboats whose bravado outpaced their talent, that wasn't the case with Quinn. He was a "good kid" who overcame a brain tumor, was incredibly talented and whose absence in 2010 was a major disappointment. Quinn is largely seen as a player who made bad decisions when offered improper benefits. He is also a player who many feel was sold out by his own school after he was forced to hand over his personal phone during NCAA questioning. While no one cares Little and Austin were cut off from the UNC family, Quinn is a different story.
In that respect all of this seems a bit harsh and if the present foreboding about P.J. Hairston's case holds true, this won't be the last time that conclusion is drawn.