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Balmer paid for trip to California for UNC's Austin, Thomas

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Former North Carolina football player Kentwan Balmer paid for his college teammates, Marvin Austin and Cam Thomas, to travel to California in the summer of 2009, Thomas said Tuesday.

Thomas, a rookie defensive tackle for the San Diego Chargers, did not provide financial details, or the dates, but said he and Austin worked out at the Proactive Sports Performance in Westlake Village, Calif. in the summer before the 2009 season.

Reached by phone on Tuesday afternoon, Thomas, who started all 13 games for UNC in the 2009 season, said he and Austin took the trip together and "'Twan paid for [the trip]." Thomas, the Chargers' fifth-round pick, then declined further comment.

Balmer, Thomas and Austin were teammates at UNC for the 2007 season and each played defensive tackle. Their position coach was John Blake, UNC's recruiting coordinator and associate head coach. Austin and Blake's relationship with California-based agent Gary Wichard has become a part of the NCAA investigation into the UNC football program, Wichard said last Thursday.

The NCAA returned to Chapel Hill on Aug. 4 after making initial visits on July 12 and July 13 to interview an undisclosed number of players, including Austin, about receiving improper benefits from an agent.

Under NCAA bylaw, or more commonly referred to as the "preferential treatment" bylaw, athletes can't receive "preferential treatment, benefits or services because of the individual's athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete, unless such treatment, benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation."

Amy Herman, UNC's assistant athletic director for compliance, declined to comment on Thomas' statement but answered a general question about a former player providing travel expenses for current player(s).

Herman said there are no set NCAA punishments for violating the preferential treatment bylaw.

"[The punishment] would be interpretative," Herman said, "based on the facts of the specific case."

Potential punishments include vacating the games Austin and Thomas participated in 2009, which would be the entire season. UNC went 8-5 last year.


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...go back to Chicago where you belong, JPG!

hypothetically speaking

what are all these rowdy ncsu fans gonna do if and when UNC is cleared of all events or if said players simply have to pay back the trip(s)? 

stay in your house is all I got to say.  gonna be a riot!

Most of us will say, "I knew

Most of us will say, "I knew that was gonna happen, cheating bastards".  Then we will go about business as usual, hoping that our team will use this as fuel to beat UNC for the 4th year in a row.  Don't worry, the streets will be safe...unless we win 10 games and have a parade of course.

Call me Schultz

Here is what I know:

The NCAA will present its findings on Friday.

The NCAA will not present its findings on Friday.

Little is cleared. Austin will serve a one game suspension.

None of the above is known to be true, at this point in time, except one of the first two items listed.


Now Balmer is AWOL from the 49er's camp and is in hot water with Mike Singletary. Not a good idea.

Could the NCAA have him in witness protection until it is time to testify?  


Perhaps he's hanging out on Revis Island with Darrelle during the preseason. ;-)


I thought you were staying out of this!? :)


So much for self-discipline and keeping my word. :-D


Not even going to take the time to respond to your comments because they are all the same.  You spew out useless information that everyone already knows in a desperate attempt to show that you can talk football.  The problem is, everything you say is irrelevant to the discussion and only a reflection of your lack of intelligence.  What does it matter if Gary Wichard lied?  Does he wear a Tar Heel uniform?  Does he work for Carolina?  No, he doesn't.  So if whether Wichard's comments are true or untrue, it has nothing to do with the investigation.  The only potential violation we know of is Austin and Thomas' trip to California last summer, and that could still be ruled out by technicality since they had a pre-existing relationship with Balmer.  That all depends on interpretation.  Notice that Thomas is not a client of Wichard's.  That should speak volumes of how little he has to do with this investigation.  As far as we know, this could all be coming down to an interpretation of whether or not Austin's relationship with Balmer would be old enough for the trip to not matter.  Is that for sure all?  No.  I repeat. NO.  Every Carolina fan on here is admitting that this could get ugly, so I don't know why you waste everyone's time by sharing your useless thoughts.  You don't even have theories, you just throw out five trillion irrelevant facts as though you're building some kind of case.  I guess George Bryan, Jake Vermiglio, Markus Kuhn and J.R. Sweezy can all be thankful you were not their attorney for the pot charge because you sure as hell can't build a case.

all this cheating and they STILL SUCK!

State has WON as many bowl games as unCheaters have been to this CENTURY.


unx has won a whopping ONE bowl game this entire 21st Century.

LOL at cheating to LOSE!!!!

good stuff!

dont worry...

Its not like they were selling shoes or anything.  they should be fine.

Wow, this is getting ugly. 

Wow, this is getting ugly.  I'm talking about the fanbase banter that has now been brought to a whole new level haha.  There are so many different opinions/theories on both sides of the fence here and plenty of wishfull thinking as well.  I really have no idea what's going to happen when all the dust clears.

Worst case scenario in my opinion: maybe some prior wins get vacated, Marvin Austin is gone, John Blake resigns/gets fired, and recruiting takes a bit of a hit for at least a few years.

Best case scenario: Austin gets a slap on the wrist and the 2010 season kicks off.

*of course, switch "Worst" and "Best" when referring to State fan's perspective.

one guess as to why it got ugly from a fan base stand point

any guesses!?

I don't know...probably

I don't know...probably because UNC has the most arrogant and pretentious fanbase in the country??  :)


judging by the records against one another in football and basketball since the inception kind of makes you see where UNC comes from.  But only after you guys (the fans) try to come to the big boys table at places like ACCNow, water cooler, radio shows does it really come out.  :)

Staying out of this one.

Whatever happens, I am pretty sure that the punishment (if any) won't fit the crime. The NCAA is an organization that promulgates rules that are so convoluted that it is virtually impossible to comply without making some mistakes. So I can't tell if an infraction really occurred her. I'll just wait and see how it pans out.

I am puzzled by the John Blake issue though. If he had such a checkered past, why take the risk of hiring him in the first place. And, if you do, it has to be clear that his actions now be squeeky clean. If that means severing ties with friends who could pose the appearance of a conflict of interest, so be it. I am all for second chances, but they come with conditions.

As to Steve Spurrier, this guy just can't keep his mouth shut. His comments are clearly a lame attempt to pump himself up. You would think a guy with his resume would feel good enough about himself to refrain from taking cheap shots. Guess not.

i agree JPD

Staying 0ut of this one. Your comments are sensible. Lets just wait and see. I have such a cynical opinion of the media to do everything in their power to sell ads that I discount most of these stories. Did something happen? Probably. Is this a problem that is endemic throughout college athletics? I suspect so. For those fans slinging mud I am sure that at some point in the future your school will be portrayed in a unfavorable light. Carolina attracts the haters and thus the media plays that card. Sells lots of soap.

who cares

lets sum it up right now.  worse case scenario.

they have ZERO on John Blake unless you are talking to ncsu fans or Steve Spurrier.

Marvin Austin is out.  later.  adios.  chow.

the 2009 team gets all their wins vacated.  who gives a rats ass.  the heels did not win it all, so,again, who cares.

Dumber than dirt

I LOATHE the NCAA suits...the BCS criminals.....but dumber than dirt players taking $$$$ hand outs........ i have ZERO sympathy for..........

Balmer paid Thomas and Austin's trip to Ca...

Thomas also goes on to say neither accepted cash or gifts from anyone (agents). That leads me to believe that either they didn't think what they were doing was against NCAA rules (as they had a relationship with Balmer), or they didn't check with the compliance staff at UNC before taking the trip. I'll admit I've not read the many comments. If this has already been proposed, I apologize. College players attend summer academies all the time. I can not say whether they are all paying their own way, but I'd guess not. Surely, if the NCAA pursues this contending that Balmer is a "runner" for his agent.... something other than transportation and tuitiion would be included. According to Thomas it was not. Certainly, I'm not making excuses for any violation, but if there was one commited the mitigating factors included must be considered. Balmer and the players in question had a relationship that was not based on the typical "salesman" and "client" scenario. As Thomas is no longer in school the NCAA's only recourse in his regard would be to adjust UNC's 8-5 record for the following season.

Pre-existing relationship

Clearly Balmer, Thomas and Austin have established a pre-existing relationship, which in that case the NCAA does allow exceptions to the preferential treatment bylaw. So the sky is not quite falling yet, unless of course you listen to sclark.

Bottom line, the season will go on and even without Little and Austin, the Heels have enough talent to have a great season.


Clearly Balmer, Thomas and Austin have established a pre-existing relationship

Wow, the little dust up over in Chapel Hill sure has put the ignorance of the arrogant out in full display.

The "pre-existing relationship" clause refers to relationships that existed prior to the principals association to UNC and UNC football.  Therefore, Balmer, Thomas and Austin do NOT fall under the pre-existing relationship exclusion.

The Truth Hurts

State fans trying to play detective and make themselves relevent. Not having a winning season since 2004 will have that affect on you.


Being subpar isn't easy for the poor Wolf Pups.

Hey, I've gone one

Gary Wichard represents Darren Sproles who plays RB for the San Diego Chargers, so that means Philip Rivers is a cheater!


Don't forget Cam Thomas currently plays for the Chargers! :-) 

Pardon. Couldn't refrain. Just pickin' with ya. 


Not gonna argue with that.  You heard it from the horse's mouth, Cam accepted a trip financed by Balmer.


I believe my pun got lost in translation. Meant to make a jest of your six-degrees of separation pun about Rivers and Sproles by saying Cam currently plays for San Diego so that makes Rivers guilty of some transgression. 

Okay. I'm out. 

Much ado about nothing...

I cannot wait til all of this is over and the Tarheels get off Scot free for all of this nonsense. All the woofies salivating for something bad to happen are gonna go ape-crap bonkers when nothing comes of this.  As one of the only Tarheel fans you'll ever meet who is a bigger football fan than basketball fan, I didn't even really know much more about John Blake than he is a coach til one day a state fan at work here in Charlotte came to me and said 'Oh yeah we call John Blake 'Black Santa'...blah blah de blah de blah de blah'  Ridiculous hoping for failure of a 'rival' that has dominated the 'rivalry' is all this amounts to...nothing more than petty and immature, malevolent, whining jealousy.


"dominated the rivalry"????


LOL, you do realize that TOB is State's coach, and butchie the cheating fool is YOURS.... right??

how's that matchup faired for the PASTEL PANSIES????

LOL, this is rich!

Butch > TOB

lest you forget, TOB hasn't had a winning season since he stepped foot on ncsu campus.  check that.  off campus.  your stadium is out in bum fack.

TOB made a huge mistake leaving the Boston where he coached smart kids who were sliughtly less athletic, but winning.  He thought he could take some stupid, but more athletic kids and win. 



Assailing the intelligence of someone, those kids TOB is currently coaching, doesn't fair well for you when your post is littered with several errors.

I didn't even really know

I didn't even really know much more about John Blake than he is a coach...


The typical  "Hear no evil, see no Evil, say no evil" of the average Carolina fan.  John Blake and his misdoings have been fodder for fans, media, and the coaching community alike for years.

Keep you head in the sand.  Ignorance is bliss.  Well, at least it is till it bites you in the rear.


PS:  The name "Black Santa" was not give to Blake by State fans.  It was given to him by his players....  Are you starting to get a clue?



I appreciate adding to my

I appreciate adding to my point.  Thank you.  Salivating at the mouth waiting for what won't happen to happen and perpetuating that which has been a fabrication by haters. 

..a fabrication by

..a fabrication by haters

Hahaha...  That must be it, it is a national conspiracy of haters against UNC.  Of course.

Who knew that unintentional low brow, slapstick humor could be so funny.

Just point out some facts...

Glad I could help, but no need for the 'thanks', it was nothing.  Just pointing out some facts... you seem to be in need of a few.

...waiting for what won't happen

I don't think I've said anything about what WILL happen, or what I think or want to happen, but this definitely is not going away quietly... 

Regardless, ok, I'll bite.  Please tell me, what won't happen?


Fantastic...another story to distract the Pack fans from the reality that their team is going to be terrible.

It would be nice to have this wrapped up soon so we can actually focus on the season. If Austin is dirty, dole out his suspension. I may be pollyannish, but I'm hoping that this will turn out to be nothing but a tempest in a teapot. Innocent until proven guilty. Heck the 4 NCSU drug dealing fball players had their case dismissed. I guess they're "innocent."

Uh oh...

3 weeks ago I wrote the 'Heels better hope John Blake doesn't get wrangled into the investigation.  Oops.

Still waiting to here about Corey Miller (UNC recruit who picked TN)...

UNC now better hope this doesn't expand to Wayne Ellington.   The football team is bad enough, but can you imagine if their precious and perfect basketball program gets dragged into this? 

Maybe even a revist back to Octagon?

I believe the Ellington situation...

has been informally explored, and there was no evidence of misdeeds. Even NCSU homers in the media have abandoned that one. I guess there's always the "noisy" faction of opposing team's fan bases that refuse to let go. I understand that, but just haven't the time or interest to investigate UNC's supposed rivals. Then again.... repeated cheating usually ends up in high profile winning............. :)

Wayne Ellington?

Holy tangent

It's not a tangent. Can you

It's not a tangent.

Can you count how many times an NCAA investigation into one programs at a University leads to other programs at that same University?  If you start now, you'll run out of fingers and toes before you finish reading this.

You obviously have little direct experience or understanding into college athletics, the NCAA, their administration, and the interactions between them.


You're right.  I've never heard of unethical recruiting.  I have no idea of what went on behind the scenes when State mysteriously got CJ Leslie over Kentucky.  I had no idea about the incriminating things that went in as Quentin Jackson made a desperate last effort to bring in Chris Wright to NC State.

My point is that Wayne Ellington's name is completely irrelevant to this situation.  Unlike you, I prefer to back up my statements with strong evidence rather than far-fetched theories.

Wow... you truly are losing

Wow... you truly are losing it.

Oh yeah

Suddenly when it's your program, it never happened.

LOL at the meltdown in pastel nation...

did this one really just say "it prefers to back up its statements with strong evidence".... just after it had implied IMPROPRIETY on State's behalf, withOUT backing it up with "strong evidence"???


LOL, this meltdown is of LEGENDARY PROPORTIONS!!!!

keep it up hole fans..... i'm doubled over in laughter at you!!!


on the bright side

at least they won't have to vacate the loss to NCSU, MOO-U, Cow College

Open and Shut

Two Defensive starters took an all-expenses paid trip to California for training with Wichard's group PRIOR to the 2009 season. NCAA violation. Verbally verified by two parties. 2009 season should be vacated. Period.

Eligibility ended for said players. Austin's UNC career is over. Finished.

Whether the NCAA can connect the probable dots from Balmer to Wichard to Blake is another story, but shouldn't require real complicated investigative work, since the involved parties love talking, texting, and tweeting about it.

Hey prowling poopie, wish

Hey prowling poopie, wish all you want.   I guess you didn't read the article.    You must have missed this part:

"Herman said there are no set NCAA punishments for violating the preferential treatment bylaw."   

I hardly doubt the NCAA would infringe such a harsh punishment as vacating a whole season for the whole team for a couple of supposed potential "bad apples" who made some poor decisions.    I see season suspension as possibility and possibly a few scholarships lost next year.  

Keep on dreaming over there in woofie land!   Looks like ole Spurrier has joined your cause too now as you both realize that both Cow College and S Car are both irrelevant at this point and on into the future.

Keep on dreaming......Poor poopies...

Go Heels!


whose wishing?

That just means the NCAA can make up some medieval punishment for you guys.  Seeing from your msg boards that EVERYone is out to get you because you might win 8 games again this year and go to a muffler/tire/timing-belt bowl, you should all be deathly afraid i would imagine, no?

Hmm, what should the punishment be for a school whose DL coach/former/current agent is in cahoots with another agent and is using a player/group of players as runners to lure in other players from all over the eastern seaboard? Hmmmm.  Or how that affects recruits if recruits are maybe not outright paid to go to UNC, but, the lure of agent contact and hookups and paid-for parties and such are casually mentioned (throw in a few scantily clad guys for the gay recruits) hmmm?

Granted I know that UNC-CH will probably be told to be nice and not talk back and that's the end of it, but, if this were a level playing field, my oh my how they could set you guys back.

Or what the NCAA hates even

Or what the NCAA hates even more.  Being lied to.

Does the name "Dez Bryant" mean anything to you?  And he was just a player.  I wonder how upset the NCAA is with UNC and Blake now that he has been caught in a lie?  Hmmmm....  If a player gets his NCAA eligibility revoked just for lying about a dinner with Deon Sanders, I wonder what the NCAA will do to a BCS level coach for lying about something more serious.  Especially one of Blake's reputation.  Hmmmm...?

john blake

what lie has he been caught in?  this is about the 2nd or 3rd time you have made this accusation. 

quit being a tool, but i'm sure the puppy fans are glad you came around when you did.  you are their knight in shining armor riding around on a dog instead of a wolf b/c as we all heard from your student body, wolves are dangerous!

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About the blogger

Joe Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997.