Report: Agent, coach have financial ties

Updated: September 30, 2010, 6:42 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NFL agent Gary Wichard and former North Carolina assistant football coach John Blake are tied by several financial transactions since May 2007, Yahoo Sports reported on Wednesday.

Yahoo Sports reports both the NCAA and North Carolina secretary of state are investigating the relationship between the two men. Blake resigned Sept. 5 amid an NCAA investigation into improper contact with agents.

Several North Carolina players -- including defensive tackle Marvin Austin, defensive end Robert Quinn, receiver Greg Little, tailback Ryan Houston, cornerback Kendric Burney and safety Deunta Williams -- have been suspended in connection with the probe.

On Thursday, the school announced safety Da'Norris Searcy was cleared to play in Saturday's game against East Carolina. He missed the first three games amid the ongoing NCAA investigation.

Yahoo Sports reported a month ago that Blake was previously employed by Pro Tect Management, Wichard's firm. It further reported Wednesday that Blake has been wired money from Wichard's bank, has received a loan from the same bank and has a Pro Tect Management credit card issued in his name.

Blake told the NCAA and North Carolina's secretary of state that he received a substantial personal loan from Wichard in the spring of 2007 because he was in need of financial assistance, a person close to Blake told ESPN's Joe Schad.

Attorneys for Blake say their client received loans from longtime friend and sports Wichard, but there was never an arrangement to direct players to Wichard once they left for the NFL.

Florida-based attorney William H. Beaver II said Wichard was trying to help Blake as the coach encountered financial trouble after being fired as the head coach at Oklahoma a dozen years ago. Beaver wouldn't specify exactly how much money was provided.

The person close to Blake said at the time, Austin was in high school and former UNC player Kentwan Balmer was a year away from being drafted. The source said Balmer told the secretary of state he used his credit card to pay for Austin's hotel room in California. Blake said he made the payments on Pro Tect Management credit card.

North Carolina coach Butch Davis reacted to the allegations in a radio interview on Thursday, and was asked if he keeps an eye on where his players travel.

"A lot of people have asked that question: How could a coach not know about a player?" Davis said. "But there's 27,000 students at the University of North Carolina. Clearly, obviously I'm not responsible for all of those students."

Davis added: "... We don't monitor, in the past we haven't, monitored where they've gone. ... It's very difficult to know where every kid goes all the time."

He also said he wasn't responsible for knowing what all of Blake's activities were while he was employed by the school.

"There are some things, it's impossible to know," Davis said. "The private lives of people, you know what people do -- it's still America, people still have private lives -- what they do, you can educate them, you can tell them, you can expect them.

"My first observation is, that, you know, in reference to some of the points in the article, is that people have private lives," he said in the Thursday radio interview. "No one knows what credit cards that anybody -- I don't know what credit cards you carry, you don't know what credit cards that I carry -- I mean people have private lives. That was a total, absolutely revelation to me. I had no idea, and don't even know that that's actually true."

ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad contributed to this report.

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