Chris Hawkins: 'I'm not an agent'
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green sold his Independence Bowl jersey to a former North Carolina football player who is also at the center of an NCAA investigation into alleged rules violations in the Tar Heels program.
Chris Hawkins, a former North Carolina defensive back, befriended Green through the receiver's Facebook page. According to the source, Hawkins identified himself as a financial adviser and memorabilia collector in Facebook messages to Green, who eventually agreed to sell his jersey to Hawkins for $1,000.
Low: Tough Blow for Bulldogs
Without A.J. Green, Georgia lacks a go-to receiver in a tough stretch of SEC games, Chris Low writes. Blog
The NCAA, which handed Green a four-game suspension on Wednesday, ruled Hawkins qualifies as an agent.
Hawkins told ESPN's Joe Schad Thursday night he gave Green $1,000 for his game-worn jersey. He said he won't sell the jersey and didn't realize it was an NCAA violation.
"I didn't come at A.J. like a marketer or an agent," Hawkins said. "I'm not an agent. I talked to him about 'Good game this' and 'Good game that.' I wanted the jersey because I collect jerseys."
Green, who is considered a potential top-10 pick in next spring's NFL draft, was held out of last week's 55-7 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. Green also will miss the No. 22 Bulldogs' first three SEC games -- at South Carolina on Saturday, home against Arkansas on Sept. 18 and at Mississippi State on Sept. 25.
Georgia officials filed an appeal to the NCAA Division I Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement on Thursday, but Green's case isn't expected to be considered until next week.
Meanwhile, a person familiar with the NCAA's ongoing investigation into alleged rules violations at North Carolina told ESPN.com that Hawkins' relationship with current Tar Heels players also is being scrutinized by the NCAA.
According to a source familiar with the investigation, Hawkins contacted several sports agents about their interest in representing North Carolina players in the NFL draft.
The source said North Carolina players told NCAA investigators Hawkins arranged for the players to meet with at least two agents: Peter Schaffer of All Pro Sports & Entertainment in Denver and Kevin Conner of Universal Sports Management in Atlanta.
The NCAA also is investigating whether Hawkins arranged for the players to make trips to Atlanta and Las Vegas to meet with potential agents. The source said Green didn't attend the agent-related trips.
In a telephone interview with ESPN.com on Thursday, Schaffer said he knew Hawkins and has spoken to him about North Carolina players. Schaffer represents former UNC and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Willie Parker, who was Hawkins' roommate in college.
"Chris Hawkins was asked by a couple of players to vet potential agents," Schaffer said. "I've known him through that and he's called me through that. I've found him to be intelligent and asking good questions. He seems to have the best interest of the kids at heart."
Hawkins, from Kinston, N.C., played cornerback for the Tar Heels from 2001 to 2003. He was kicked off the team after his junior season and finished his college career at Marshall in 2004.
Hawkins said he has met Schaeffer but he is not trying to help the agent land players.
"I know many agents and I help my friends sort through the process. It's not just one," Hawkins said. "I do lots of research."
A UNC official said Thursday Hawkins has frequently visited North Carolina's football facility during the past few years, including a visit this summer in which he worked out with Parker in the team's weight room. The school official said Hawkins often described himself as Parker's manager.
"I've talked to a number of the North Carolina players," Schaffer said. "It's my understanding that the players look up to [Hawkins]. He's intelligent and seems to have a good business sense. He's like an older brother, and the players said, 'Hey, take care of it for me.' "
Schaffer, whose list of NFL clients also includes former Tar Heels receiver Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants) and tight end Richard Quinn (Denver Broncos), said Hawkins has never asked him to do anything to violate NCAA rules.
"He hasn't asked me for money and hasn't asked me to do anything illegal," Schaffer said. "In my dealings with him, he's done nothing improper."
Schaffer said he met with two current Tar Heels players in Chapel Hill this summer, but said the players paid for their own meals. Schaffer said he arranged the meeting with the UNC players, which is allowable under NCAA rules, and said Hawkins also attended. Schaffer would not identify the players.
Schaffer said he and Memphis-based agent Jimmy Sexton were invited to spring practice by UNC coach Butch Davis to educate Tar Heels players about NCAA rules regarding agents during spring practice.
North Carolina and NCAA officials refused comment.
Last week, North Carolina suspended 13 players for its 30-24 loss to LSU in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Seven starters were suspended, including All-America candidates Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn, while the NCAA investigates alleged improper contact with agents and academic fraud.
Austin, a defensive tackle who is considered a potential first-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, was indefinitely suspended by the school last month for reasons not related to the NCAA inquiry.
Austin has been at the center of allegations of an alleged agent-sponsored party in South Florida, which also led to Alabama defensive lineman Marcel Dareus and South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders being suspended by their respective schools.
Hawkins said the NCAA has tried to connect him to the South Florida trip but without success. Hawkins has also conceded he is good friends with UNC cornerbacks Kendric Burney and Charles Brown, who were held out of the opener against LSU amid the NCAA's investigation.
A source familiar with the investigation told ESPN.com that the NCAA sent letters to at least 20 agents two weeks ago, asking if they would be interviewed about their recruitment of current North Carolina players.
North Carolina associate head coach John Blake, who was considered the staff's best recruiter, resigned on Sunday. Blake's relationship with California-based agent Gary Wichard is also being scrutinized by the NCAA, according to a source.
Last month, UNC officials said the school is investigating allegations of academic fraud involving some of the school's football players. During interviews about agents, a UNC player told officials a tutor formerly employed by Davis improperly helped players write papers for classes.
Mark Schlabach is a college football and basketball writer for ESPN.com. ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad contributed to this report.