UNC permanently distances itself from 3 ex-players
North Carolina has sent letters of "permanent disassociation" to former Tar Heels football players Marvin Austin, Greg Little and Robert Quinn for NCAA violations that led to criminal charges against five people for violating the state's sports agent law.
The letters dated Nov. 15 prohibit the players from contacting current UNC athletes, bar them from the Kenan Football Center or other campus athletic facilities, and prohibit them from providing recruiting or financial assistance for athletics.
The players missed the 2010 season for accepting improper benefits, including cash and travel accommodations. That led to NCAA sanctions against the program and recent charges against five people for violating the state's Uniform Athlete Agents Act.
The school released the letters Tuesday in response to public-records requests from media outlets.
Little, a wide receiver with the Cleveland Browns, said Wednesday that he not seen the letter, but was told about it by agent Drew Rosenhaus.
Little, though, did acknowledge his actions have caused others some suffering.
"I think there's been some wrongful accusing," Little said. "There's a lot of people that I've hurt, and I think a lot of the blame should be put on me much less than attacking other people."
Despite the ban, Little said he will continue to back the school.
"North Carolina's a great university and I wish things weren't the way they were," he said. "I'll just continue to support them from afar."
North Carolina also recently sent letters to four of the five people charged barring them from having any contact with UNC athletes or the school's athletic program. Those letters were sent to: Georgia-based agent Terry Watson, Watson associate Patrick Jones, Watson employee Willie Barley and Little's longtime friend Michael Johnson — now an employee of Rosenhaus Sports Representation, which lists Little as a client.
The school had already sent a letter of disassociation to former UNC tutor Jennifer Wiley Thompson, the fifth person indicted by an Orange County grand jury during its Sept. 30 session for violating the agent law that prohibits offering benefits to athletes to entice them to sign a representation contract.
They were charged with either providing benefits to Austin, Little and Quinn directly or facilitating Watson's efforts to sign them.
The letters to Austin, Little and Quinn state that the permanent disassociation is to prevent them from "further embarrassing" the university and "jeopardizing the University's commitment to full NCAA rules compliance."
"The integrity of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's intercollegiate athletics program has been damaged through your actions," states the letter signed by UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham. "We will take every step necessary to protect our intercollegiate athletics program from future NCAA rules violations."
The disassociation letters to Austin, Little and Quinn came after documents from the investigation by the North Carolina Secretary of State's office outlined numerous violations such as Little and Austin arranging to receive packages of cash through the mail or a third party. In Little's case, he told investigators he received more than $20,000 from Watson in 2010 — including a $2,200 monthly allowance — according to a June search warrant.
Unsealed indictments also state Quinn received a package of cash from Watson, sent by Jones, as well as travel accommodations from Barley.
The NCAA declared Quinn and Little permanently ineligible in 2010, while the school dismissed Austin from the team. Quinn was a first-round draft pick and is a defensive end with the St. Louis Rams, Little is a receiver with the Cleveland Browns while Austin — a defensive tackle — has spent time with Miami and Dallas this year.
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Berea, Ohio contributed to this report.