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More UNC football scandal prong thingy document dump!

Let me say this. UNC is getting very good at timing when to drop this information. By releasing documents at the close of business today they basically ensure that it will be news for the rest of the evening and possibly tomorrow morning. After that the sheer force of UNC season opener in basketball followed by the release of Hunter Freaking Furr from his cage against Virginia Tech on Saturday means the story itself will be short lived. Well played Dick Baddour, well played.

So what was released? Nothing terribly exciting. It is important to remember anything that comes out in these public sacrifices to the media has already been accounted for in terms of what the NCAA knows and previously dispensed penalties.  In other words, the piper has been paid. What we have here are specifics in the form of names of individuals who provided benefits as well as a disassociation letter to the tutor, Jennifer Wiley. Accompanying the information from UNC is a statement from Ms. Wiley's lawyer acknowledging her role as laid out by the letter.

In the letter, dated Nov. 5 and signed by athletic director Dick Baddour, states that Wiley provided impermissible academic assistance to some of the school’s student-athletes in 2009 and 2010.

The letter also states that Wiley provided impermissible financial assistance in excess of $2,000 in connection with travel and transportation issues. The university released the letters to the media this afternoon as the result of public records requests.

In a statement sent to the media by her lawyer, Joseph B Cheshire V of Raleigh, Wiley acknowledged her role in the investigation. The statement said the providing of funds mentioned in the letter she received from UNC related to allowing one individual to use her credit card where a credit card was required. According to the statement, bank deposit would show she was immediately repaid for the cost applied to her card, and she did not realize such a transaction was impermissible.

"She did not intend for her work to 'provide impermissible academic assistance' and to the extent it did, she is deeply saddened, particularly as it has affected the young men she cared so much about," the statement read.

If you read the letter it states the impermissible benefits occurred in 2010 which is after Ms. Wiley's employment with UNC ended but possibly not before her work with Butch Davis' son was completed. . Not that one has to do with the other, I am just noting it to put all the facts on the table. The fact Ms. Wiley engaged in this activity after her contract with UNC ended means she was acting on her own and no longer tied to the university in an official capacity. Also of note, according Ms. Wiley's lawyer, bank statements show that Ms. Wiley was immediately repaid for the money charged to her credit card. It is still a violation and should be duly punished. However a former tutor(and presumed friend) allowing someone to use her credit card and being repaid is not the stuff of a "dirty program" with agents running amok.

On the academic side, the letter states she provided illicit assistance in 2009 and 2010. According to previous reports, Ms. Wiley's contract with academic support was not renewed in May, 2009. While we do not know this for certain, it is possible that the illicit academic assistance occurred after May, 2009 and ran through 2010. One of the more pertinent questions hanging over UNC on the academic scandal is whether Ms. Wiley helped student-athletes while still employed at UNC. If she was, the academic infractions likely result in NCAA violations. If not then the NCAA is only involved as far as to ensure UNC handles the individual cases properly. Since players have been cleared and returned to action out of academic prong, it is likely the "2009 and 2010" referred to in the letter covers a time period following Ms. Wiley's termination from academic support. That and Kevin Best's response to me via email that it could be inferred no NCAA violations occurred where the players involved in the academic scandal were concerned.

As for the other names coming out of the document release, there was one that was a tad surprising.

UNC also released a document providing additional details of the investigation.

Reinstatement requests sent by the university to the NCAA indicate that impermissible gifts, including cash, jewelry and travel and entertainment expenses were provided to football players by:

  • Former UNC player Hakeem Nicks ($3,300).
  • Former UNC player Omar Brown ($1,865).
  • Former UNC player Mahlon Carey ($140).
  • Vernon Davis ($20).
  • A person from Miami whose full name is not known to the university

Some of the benefits provided were repaid by the UNC players before they or their hosts knew that receipt of the benefits violated NCAA rules, according to UNC.

Actually, seeing Hakeem Nicks' name show up is not really that surprising. Why? Because of the whole "former teammate" trap players can easily fall into unless Admiral Akbar is there to warn them. We already knew Omar Brown was connected to Deunta Williams and Kendric Burney. I never heard of Mahlon Carey before today and apparently Vernon Davis bought somebody a pizza or something. UNC said that in some of these cases, players repaid the individuals but once the former player uses his money to pay for something an NCAA rule has been broken.  The fact they did so before knowing a rule had been violated means there was never any intent to take improper benefits in some of these situations.

If you are bored I am certain you can find a thread or two in ABC Land trying to reconcile these dollar amounts with previously released dollar amounts to fuel some poppycock conspiracy theory about how we are not getting the full picture. Based on the previous information released by the NCAA, a total of five UNC players took something in the neighborhood of $23-26,000 in benefits. What we have in the release today between the former players and Ms. Wiley constitutes a little over $7000 of that total.

Let me again stress that all of this has already been factored into the equation. The players who received these benefits have already been disciplined by the NCAA. Having specific names and details about the tutor does not change the outlook for UNC. These details do feed the speculation/wild conspiracy beast which, if I happen to stumble across any such ramblings, will likely give me a headache. However, there is nothing in these documents that makes what we already knew necessarily worse. In fact, I would argue on the tutor angle the letter helps the perception of what is happening on the academic side. Ms. Wiley is presented by the letter and her own statement as someone who acted on her own and apart from an official capacity with UNC. That means her actions do not create an institutional issues assuming the "2009" part of her activities occurred after May. The details about the other individuals providing improper benefits includes three former players, one of whom is a former teammate of most of the players involved. It is easy to see how players and former players alike might not realize violations were occurring.

Looking at the whole picture of what we have here. Yes there is an agent angle with some players getting benefits from agents, runners or ALCs. There is John Blake and Gary Wichard and how the NCAA interprets their relationship plus anything else they may have found. Then you have the players who did stuff that is not necessarily shady but just violating rules out of ignorance during the course of doing things people do with credit cards and what not. On the academic side it looks like one person, separated from the university, thinking she is helping players whom she is close. A lot of moving parts, some of it shady, some of it not and at least one piece(Blake) a ticking time bomb.

Stay tuned.