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More Nuggets from Thursday

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THF posted the big news of yesterday, which is the disassociation letter sent to the tutor at the heart of the academic issues at UNC. You can read his analysis here.

There were two other interesting pieces of information as part of Thursday's larger information dump:

First, UNC refused to release the parking ticket records of 11 football players, saying:

The News & Observer has requested parking tickets issued to 11 named football players. Those records are protected by federal privacy law (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA) with regard to students. However the University has reviewed the parking tickets and can report that each car receiving a ticket was registered either to the student, a parent, or a fellow student.

In other words, the fishing expedition failed. I thought this was a neat trick on the News and Observer's part to get UNC to release information to which the N&O would not normally have access. Usually vehicle registration information is only available to law enforcement, so a sunshine request for the parking tickets would have allowed them to see what kinds of cars were ticketed and to whom those cars were registered when they otherwise would not have had a way to get that information. UNC (through its lawyers, I'm sure) squashed that and the fact that the vehicles were registered to the students, their parents, or fellow students eliminates at least one angle that could have been played if there was a thought of improper benefits as it relates to cars.

Second, and this may come as breaking news to those of you who have lived under a rock for the past three months, but UNC released phone records that show former assistant coach John Blake and agent Gary Wichard talked on the phone a lot:

Former University of North Carolina associate football coach John Blake used his university issued cell phone to call sports agent Gary Wichard nearly 150 times in the past year and a half, according to phone records released by UNC on Thursday.

Blake's relationship with Wichard is part of the focus of investigations by the University of North Carolina, the NCAA, the NFL Players Association and the North Carolina Secretary of State's office.

The 149 calls were placed between June 2009 and September 2010, according to phone records.

While 149 calls seems like a lot, and I'm not saying it isn't, that is an average of 10 calls per month over 15 months, or 2-3 calls per week. I think it's safe to assume their contact was more frequent near the time of the NFL Draft, meaning their remaining calls were less frequent than twice a week.

It is unclear how this lines up with a previous information release in September regarding phone communication between Blake and Wichard that showed 152 communications in a 9-month period, although a distinction between texts and phone calls was not made at that time.

Regardless, chalk this one up to another "yes it looks fishy but is it really a violation" revelation. The relationship between Wichard and Blake has been established on multiple levels and by multiple sources. Personally I still believe Blake is the one person who may ultimately spell doom for the UNC football program as it relates to the NCAA, but forgive me if I don't jump up and down at new information that shows they talked. Wake me up when there's proof of breaking NCAA rules.

Besides, if Wichard and Blake were up to no good, they have to be among the dumbest folks on the planet, seeing as how their phone conversations were held on Blake's school-issued phone (and subject to sunshine requests) and their bank transfers were direct from one account to another. I watch enough cop shows to know you use pre-paid cell phones and there are plenty of ways to transfer money besides direct bank wires.