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Come To Think Of It, What Happened To That Secretary Of State Investigation?

You know, the one Elaine Marshall was championing last year when the NCAA probe at UNC was heating up and not coincidentally her bid for US Senate. Well, it appears to be going nowhere at this point despite mounting evidence that NC state laws have been broken. Sports attorney and President of Synergy Sports Consulting, Rand Getlin noticed and in this piece highlights Marshall's inaction as a disservice to the people of the state of NC.

As the NCAA began holding players responsible for accepting those gifts, coaches and university administrators began deflecting responsibility. They pointed at the NFLPA, the NFLPA pointed at the states, the states pointed at agents, and agents pointed at everyone besides themselves.

And that’s when the façade went up.

North Carolina’s Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall, claimed the expertise and motivation to prosecute the agents who decimated UNC’s football program. With the information provided to her by journalists alone, she had enough evidence to subpoena her way into open-and-shut convictions of multiple agents under the UAAA.

For a fleeting moment, some of us foolishly believed she actually would.

And yet, here we are, nearly seven months later, and Marshall’s office hasn’t so much as levied a fine against the individuals responsible for UNC’s woes.

Think about that for a moment. The University of North Carolina suspended and dismissed several players, banished some individuals from contact with the program, forced one coach into a resignation, and suffered the indignity of a probing NCAA investigation. More recently, even the NFLPA chose to sanction – albeit lightly – one agent connected with the mess at UNC. Meanwhile, Elaine Marshall’s office has remained silent, cowering behind the safety of a state seal. And outside of her office window, other NFL agents are speeding up and down her collegiate freeways, unchecked and unafraid.

UNC and the NCAA have agreed that improper conduct occurred, but that wasn’t enough for Marshall. Nor were the hotel receipts, wire transfers, or full-page flow charts explicating the cast of characters in media accounts.

By virtue of her inaction, Marshall’s only message to agents and their affiliates thus far is this: Agent laws don’t exist in her state. And while Marshall’s failure isn’t the only instance of the legal system being exposed as a sham when it comes to agent regulation, it’s certainly the most glaring.

It’s a shame. While some commentators say "real criminals" are out there and those are the folks enforcers should pursue, they fail to realize potential sanctions against schools like UNC could ultimately cost the school and the state millions.

Geltin makes a very good point, something that applies to NC State as much as it does UNC. The violations that occurred at UNC could occur anywhere. If agents believe North Carolina is playground with unenforced laws then there is just as much danger of improper benefits showing up in Raleigh as they did in Chapel Hill. That ultimately means hobbled football programs who are financially less viable as they would be otherwise. Put simply UNC or NCSU or ECU being successful, selling tickets, merchandise and going to lucrative bowl games means money is flowing into the public universities. The illegal actions of sports agents(and yes players and coaches as well) prevents the schools from bringing in that money. If that is not a vested interest and within the scope of the office of the Secretary of the State of North Carolina, I don't know what is.

The problem with Marshall is she never really intended to follow through with the investigation. Last summer when UNC put under the gun by the NCAA, Marshall made a huge show of launching her own investigation, very few people believe it was result in anything significant. ABCers hoped it would dredge up more garbage for UNC and even know there are some who believe Marshall is backing off to protect UNC. That notion is the stuff of conspiracy theorist and message board nuts alike. The truth is the issue gains Marshall nothing, politically speaking, so the investigation recessed to the back burner. Of course Gary Wichard's untimely death probably make the case less compelling.

That is until you consider the news that former UNC WR has signed with agent Drew Rosnehaus. As you might recall, one of the individuals to receive disassociation letters from UNC was Michael Katz who worked for Rosenhaus. So what penalty did Rosenhaus pay for having someone in his company tamper with and cost UNC players their eligibility? None. Not only none but Rosenhaus ultimately signed one of the players his company initially screwed.

Tying all this together, what happened was for all intents and purposes Rosenhaus gave improper benefits to UNC players. Granted, it was not Rosnenhaus himself but an employee but that is a distinction without difference in my opinion. Rosnehaus tampered with UNC players and it paid off since now he has at least one of them as a client. Meanwhile the NC Secretary of State tells a tale "full of sound and fury but signifying nothing." It is saber rattling at its finest. Principles in Rosenhaus' organization flaunt the laws of North Carolina, have a hand in ruining UNC 2010 football season and in the end still get the client all without fear of reprisal.

As Geltin points out(which also discusses with Adam Gold and Joe Ovies on 99.9 The Fan here) what we have here is a whole system where not one governing or regulatory body is willing to enforce the written rules except for the NCAA which does so inconsistently and with penalties that do not really deter bad behavior. The NFLPA is a joke when it comes to discipling agents and the states seem unwilling to enforce the laws on the book. That leaves the likes of Rosenhaus free to do pretty much whatever they want to. Schools can be vigilant, coaches can preach the rules and players can do their best to make good choices but when no one is stepping to make illegal agent activity actually illegal it will continue to be an uphill battle for the schools to fight.