Citing an unnamed source close to the family of Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus, the Birmingham News reported this morning that UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin made the arrangements for Dareus to attend a party this summer in Miami's South Beach.
According to the article, Dareus asked to leave the party and paid Austin back for his travel expenses after discovering there were sports agents at the party:
The friend who arranged the trip was Marvin Austin, a star defensive lineman at North Carolina, a source close to the Dareus family said. Austin appears to be a central figure in a growing NCAA investigation into possible improper dealings between agents and college football players.
When Dareus made a recruiting visit to North Carolina during his senior year at Huffman High School, his host was Austin, then a freshman. The two players bonded.
As Alabama rolled last fall toward an undefeated season, Austin said if the Crimson Tide won the national championship, he would pay for a trip for Dareus anywhere, a source close to the Dareus family said.
The plane fare to Miami was paid for by Austin, but when Dareus arrived in Miami, he paid Austin for the ticket and received a receipt, the source said. Austin also arranged for a hotel room, but the source said Dareus did not use the room.
NCAA investigators visited Chapel Hill last week as part of an investigation into some players' possible improper contact with sports agents. It has been confirmed that the investigators interviewed Austin and Tar Heels wide receiver Greg Little.
ESPN.com, also citing unnamed sources, has reported that the NCAA has been trying to determine who covered the transporation and lodging costs for Austin, Little, South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders and other college football players who attended an unidentified sports agent's party in South Beach this summer.