Grand jury indicts ex-football player in UNC agents case

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HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (AP) — A grand jury has indicted a former college football player for violating North Carolina's sports agent law by providing money to a former Tar Heels player and illegally contacting another about signing a contract.

Christopher Hawkins faces four counts of violating the Uniform Athlete Agents Act. He was arrested in May on the same charges, including two counts of inducement for providing former UNC player Robert Quinn with $13,700 and helping him sell game-used equipment for another $1,700 in 2010.

Hawkins is also charged contacting former UNC player Jabari Price through Instagram in 2013 without being registered with the state as an agent, and for intentionally failing to register as required by law.

Hawkins was the sixth person arrested and is one of five facing charges in the 5-year-old probe. His attorney, Natasha Adams, declined to comment about the indictments in an email to The Associated Press on Monday afternoon.

The North Carolina Secretary of State's office launched its investigation connected to improper benefits for Tar Heels football players in summer 2010. That came amid an NCAA investigation into the program, and Hawkins — a former Marshall and UNC player — was barred from school athletes and facilities that year.

Five people were indicted in September 2013, including Georgia-based sports agent Terry Watson, though prosecutor Jim Woodall later dropped charges against a former UNC tutor in the case.

The law prohibits illegally luring collegiate athletes into contracts by providing them money, gifts or other items of value. It also seeks to regulate sports agent conduct by requiring them to register with the state. It has been enacted in at least 40 states along with the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, though its structure and penalties can vary from state to state. In North Carolina, it is a low-level felony.

Search warrants unsealed since Hawkins' arrest have stated he arranged and attended meetings for players with agents and financial advisers. In one interview, Quinn told state investigators that Hawkins provided him money to steer him to agent Peter Schaffer and financial advisory Marty Blazer, according to the documents.

In another interview cited in the unsealed documents, former UNC player Kendric Burney said Hawkins arranged and attended his meetings with Schaffer and Blazer, and that he had received monthly payments from Hawkins while an eligible player.

In a July interview with the AP, Schaffer adamantly denied providing any improper benefits to UNC players and called the state's probe "a witch-hunt."

The earlier charges in the case centered around Quinn, a star defensive end now with the NFL's St. Louis Rams, as well as defensive tackle Marvin Austin and receiver Greg Little. None of those three played a snap for UNC in 2010, with the NCAA ruling Quinn and Little permanently ineligible and UNC dismissing Austin from the team.

All three went on to be selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft the following spring.

UNC said in May that Price notified school officials after being contacted by Hawkins, and they then notified state investigators.


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