More information is emerging as to the scope of the NCAA's investigation that helps bring a number of things into clearer focus.
ESPN is reporting that the NCAA has now turned its attention to Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and his attendance at an agent's party in Miami's South Beach earlier this summer. This appears to be the incident at the center of the NCAA's inquiry into both Marvin Austin and South Carolina's Weslye Saunders.
The ESPN piece notes "The NCAA is trying to determine who paid for the players' transportation to Miami, and lodging, food and entertainment while they were there."
The piece also notes that the revelations that Florida's Maurkice Pouncey may have accepted $100,000 from an agent before last season's Sugar Bowl are unrelated to the inquiry into Austin, Saunders, and Dareus. But, as 99.9 The Fan's Joe Ovies tweeted, "If it wasn't clear before, it is now - NCAA is after agents. Players at UNC, USC, UF & Bama are the collateral." Update(THF): Ovies expands this tweet into an excellent article that can be found here. Ovies suggests that, given the NCAA's focus on the agents, UNC's football program might get by relatively unscathed with only one or two players suspended. This will be much to the chagrin of NCSU fans who Ovies says, "won't have their Christmas in July."
In other news:
• Joe Giglio at the N&O reports that Marvin Austin's Twitter activity may have been begging for someone to take a deeper look. Austin apparently had more than 2,400 tweets and over 100 pictures in his account. Some of those, like pictures of $145 dinner tabs and shopping bags for designer sunglasses (Austin has a known penchant for sunglasses) coming after tweets where he complained of being broke, were certainly attention-grabbers.
On the other hand, Austin is known as a gregarious personality who often spoke (and tweeted) with tongue firmly in-cheek. One of the tweets that has garnered the most attention is the one about "I live In club LIV so I get the tenant rate. bottles comin [sic] like its giveaway", leading some to check the room rates in Miami near the club and how much champagne goes for at Club LIV. As Giglio notes, however, there's only one catch - that line is a direct quote from a rap song by Rick Ross called "Sweet Life". So was Austin really living it up in the club or quoting rap lyrics?
Update(THF): ACC Now has an additional photo from Twitter which shows Little and Austin in Miami on May 15th according to the time stamp. This could be problematic since Little's father insisted his son was only there during spring break and tweets from Austin showed he was possibly in Miami two weeks later. Multiple trips? Long stays at a lavish club? Quoting rap lyrics? Your guess is as good as mine. Carry on.
• The Carolina football team held its end of the summer team meeting yesterday and apparently the issue of the ongoing NCAA investigation was not discussed, other than to remind the players that Dick Baddour is the only one who speaks for the UNC athletic department.
The team had a motivational speaker and were also reminded to watch what they say on Twitter and other social media. Ya think? I wonder if that was related to T.J. Yates lobbing this zinger at the NCAA?
• THF raised the question yesterday as to whether or not UNC should get preemptive in how it is dealing with the story. Steve Spurrier decried agents in his comments about Weslye Saunders, while Nick Saban took a shot at the NFL in his response to questions about Marcel Dareus.
UNC, on the other hand, has adopted the bunker mentality that may have served it well in the past but is less effective in the internet-based 24-hour news cycle. There has been one official statement, one week ago, confirming the investigation, and that's it. Butch Davis has said absolutely nothing on the record.
It really is a catch-22: there's really nothing to say until the investigation is completed, but saying absolutely nothing smacks of either being evasive or aloof. Tom Sorenson of the Charlotte Observer writes a snippy piece today basically taking Davis to task for not spouting off to reporters like Steve Spurrier.
Regardless, with the big Triangle Pigskin Preview coming up on Thursday and the ACC Operation Football next week, so Sorenson and other sportswriters will at least have the opportunity to exact their pound of flesh from Butch. But as THF also noted, he is the anti-Roy in that all his comments are guarded and filtered. May not be much fun for those hoping for something juicy.