The University of North Carolina became aware of some of the financial ties between then-associate head football coach John Blake and agent Gary Wichard when Blake was interviewed Aug. 31 as part of the NCAA’s investigation into the school’s football program, according to the school.
UNC athletic director Dick Baddour released a statement this afternoon saying that the financial transactions in and of themselves didn’t establish a violation. Baddour said that at that time the school didn’t have enough information to dismiss Blake with cause and avoid paying Blake the remainder of the salary he was due on his $240,000-a-year contract.
“Nevertheless, we weren’t comfortable with what we learned,” Baddour said in the statement. “That, combined with the distraction that Coach Blake was becoming to the football program, led us to the conclusion that it was not in our best interest for him to continue to be part of our program. He offered to resign, and we agreed to terms on Sept. 5.”
Blake resigned Sept. 5, saying he had become a “distraction” to the program. The school paid him $74,500, approximately the salary he would have earned if he would have stayed with the team through the end of the season.
A Yahoo! Sports report published Wednesday night, detailed a string of financial transactions dating back to May 2007 between former UNC associate head coach John Blake and NFL agent Gary Wichard.
According to the report, UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin also made at least five trips that have come under the NCAA's scrutiny, including a pair of trips to train at a California facility less than two miles from Wichard’s agency, Pro Tect Management.
A hotel receipt from one of those trips, cited in the Yahoo! report, lists Austin’s name above Pro Tect Management. The receipt also includes an address and Marriott Rewards number belonging to an NFL marketing agent who represents two current Pro Tect clients.