Sources: Florida, NCAA probe allegation

Updated: July 21, 2010, 10:41 AM ET
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com

Florida and NCAA officials are investigating a potential rules violation that allegedly occurred this past December involving former Gators football standout Maurkice Pouncey, sources said.

Florida is internally investigating what sources described as an allegation that a representative of an agent paid Pouncey $100,000 between the Gators' loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game and their season-ending Allstate Sugar Bowl victory over Cincinnati. Florida apprised the NCAA of the allegation after it became aware of it.

"We were made aware of some information in early June that we reported to law enforcement and we then shared with the NCAA and the SEC," athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement released Monday morning to ESPN.com. "At this time we have no information that has indicated that there are any compliance issues for the University of Florida."

Florida law enforcement could be investigating whether the state's agent registration laws were violated. Meanwhile, university police worked in conjunction with Florida compliance officials to investigate the anonymous claim.

Pouncey, a standout offensive lineman who entered the NFL draft after his junior season and was taken in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, played in the Sugar Bowl. If found to have accepted the alleged payment, he could be retroactively ruled ineligible for the game and Florida might have to vacate the victory.

"The NCAA is working cooperatively with the university. However, it is NCAA policy to not comment on current, pending or potential investigations," the organization said in a statement released Monday.

Two sources briefed on the anonymous letter sent to Florida told ESPN's Joe Schad that it was postmarked in Canada. Two sources also told Schad that the letter was accompanied by photographic evidence of an alleged runner for an agent in social situations with Pouncey and his brother Mike, including at two awards shows.

Mike Pouncey will be a senior offensive lineman with the Gators next season.

The sources told Schad that the Pounceys have provided phone, bank and credit card statements that do not show any large payments. Two sources added that Maurkice Pouncey said he paid for a Cadillac Escalade and jewelry after the NFL draft with a deferred line of credit and did at times lend the Escalade to Mike in Gainesville, Fla.

Maurkice Pouncey's agent is Joel Segal, but the allegation is not necessarily tied to him. A message left by The Associated Press at Segal's office Monday seeking comment was not immediately returned.

The Pouncey family had planned to release a statement Tuesday stating that no extra benefits were received and that the family complied with all requests, a source told Schad. The statement was later moved until Wednesday.

The Pouncey investigation is the latest in a series of agent-related inquiries making ripples in college football.

North Carolina announced last week that an NCAA investigation is under way at the school, and subsequent media reports have tied it to alleged agent interaction with multiple players. South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman says the NCAA is investigating a possible rules violation of one of its athletic programs.

Gamecocks tight end Weslye Saunders told ESPN on Sunday that he has been interviewed by NCAA investigators in connection with the North Carolina case.

Rachel Newman-Baker, director of the agent, gambling and amateurism deparment of the NCAA, said Monday that her department is charged with investigating agents and how they involve themselves with college athletes.

"Within the last several years we've been able to work on networking and building relations, and getting people to trust us," Newman-Baker said. "And if people believe that their information will be acted upon, they're more willing to communicate. We've tried to reach out to as many people in sports communities as we can to help us. Professional leagues, player associations, agents and advisers have all been willing to cooperate with us."

She said her department tries to educate athletes and make them aware of the consequences of interacting with agents.

"I think it takes two approaches," she said. "They have to understand the rules, and they have to understand what will happen if they make a bad choice or bad decision."

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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