NCAA probe into UNC football program 'sounding very serious'

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With the start of North Carolina’s 2010 regular season a mere 50 days away, head coach Butch Davis and athletic director Dick Baddour may have a bigger concern than the Tar Heels’ offense once again dragging down a stellar defense.

As you have no doubt heard by now, the NCAA has launched an investigation into UNC’s football program.  Specifically, the organization is looking into football players’ relationships with agents and whether any illicit benefits changed hands.

A tweet from SI.com‘s Stewart Mandel sounds ominous enough in and of itself — The UNC/agent situation sounding very serious. I’m told NCAA has spent months compiling evidence. — but, when coupled with a “report” from a certified agent, it portends a very USC-like situation going on in Chapel Hill.  Only on a much larger scale.

Agent Darren Heitner has posted an intriguing — or, if you’re a Tar Heels fan, chilling — piece on the SportsAgentBlog website and, citing unnamed sources, has made some damning claims as to the scope of those alleged to be involved in wrongdoing and the extent of illegal benefits that may have been received by current UNC players.

So when Joe Schad tells the world that there is a serious NCAA investigation taking place at UNC, sports agents who may be affected should begin to contact their attorneys. Schad notes that Defensive tackle Marvin Austin was a football player who was interviewed. I have a source who tells me that Austin was only 1 of 13 players who have been interviewed – this is far reaching. And it does not only extend to a number of players. The same source tells me that there are a lot of agents that may have dirty hands, including both NFLPA Certified Advisors and marketing agents. Some are being examined more than others.

It is apparently beyond just in-person meetings, rent payments, and travel expenses. We are potentially talking about all expenses paid trips to South Beach, exorbitant amounts of money dropped on accessories, and perhaps even a Bentley or two.

Obviously, the investigation is in its infancy, and literally nothing has been proven thus far.

However, if even some of the allegations are remotely close to being the truth, the sheer scope of what’s being alleged would put the USC/Reggie Bush scandal to shame.

And, given the near-historic sanctions levied on the Trojans’ football program, that’s not the type of characterization anyone associated with the heretofore squeaky-clean UNC athletic department wants to hear.

(Tip O’ the Hat: SI.com’s Andy Staples)

Former WR Keith Mumphery sues Michigan State over handling of his dismissal

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Michigan State is dealing with yet another lawsuit over an alleged sexual assault but this time it has nothing to do with the growing Larry Nassar scandal at the school.

The Detroit Free Press reports that a federal lawsuit has been filed against the university by former Spartans wide receiver Keith Mumphery, alleging that he was “permanently dismissed from Michigan State based on false allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual exploitation by a female Michigan State student.”

“The disciplinary process and ultimate finding were motivated by an anti-male and anti-athlete discriminatory bias against,” the suit added.

Mumphery was a fifth round pick in 2015 by the Houston Texans but was cut by the franchise prior to the 2017 season after the Free Press published details regarding the alleged sexual assault case. It was later revealed that Mumphery was banned from going on campus in East Lansing until 2019 by the university as part of the disciplinary process, which began with the alleged incident back in March of 2015.

The Free Press notes that the female student at the center of the case has also sued Michigan State in federal court but tells a much different story than Mumphery does about the alleged incident and subsequent actions by the university.

Needless to say, it’s been a trying few months for the Spartans given all that has gone on at the school and you can now add this matter to the growing list of things that MSU will have to deal with.

Report: Gasparilla Bowl moving from Tropicana Field to Raymond James Stadium

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The bowl game named after a pirate is moving to a pirate ship. No, seriously.

In an ‘only in college football’ type of move, former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy is reporting that the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl is moving from St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field (home of MLB’s Rays) to Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium (home of the NFL’s Bucs).

The move is being framed as being a way to boost attendance for the game after several years of lackluster crowds at the rather remote baseball stadium in the Tampa area. Raymond James is no stranger to hosting bowl games, serving as the home of the Outback Bowl as well as hosting the national title game in 2017 between Clemson and Alabama.

The Gasparilla Bowl is owned and operated by ESPN and will pit teams from the American against a squad from either the ACC or Conference USA on December 20th.

Ex-Iowa DE Romeo McKnight transfers to Illinois State

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Another former Power Five player has decided to ply his football wares at a lower level of football.

The latest to do so is Romeo McKnight, with Illinois State announcing via Twitter that defensive end will be continuing his collegiate playing career for the Redbirds. Because ISU plays at the FCS level, McKnight will be eligible to play in 2018.

Including this upcoming season, the lineman will have three years of eligibility remaining.

The announcement from ISU comes a little over a week after McKnight decided to transfer from Iowa.

McKnight was a three-star member of Iowa’s 2016 recruiting class. In large part because of a knee injury that cost him the entire 2017 season, the defensive lineman never played a down for the Hawkeyes.

Georgia, South Carolina visits in offing for Clemson transfer Josh Belk

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Another of the handful of Clemson defensive linemen who have transferred thus far this offseason could be close to finding a new home.

Reports surfaced Tuesday that Josh Belk will be visiting a pair of SEC schools this week — Georgia and South Carolina. The latter will play host to the ex-Tigers lineman on Wednesday, the former a day later on Thursday.

Belk was a four-star member of Clemson’s 2018 recruiting class. Because he enrolled early and attended classes, he’ll be forced to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.  Beginning with the 2019 season, the South Carolina would have four years to play four seasons.

In the middle of last week, Belk announced his decision to transfer from the Tigers.

In addition to Belk, three other Tigers defensive linemen have transferred this offseason. In late January, Jabril Johnson opted to leave Clemson and ultimately ended up at West Virginia; two weeks later, Sterling Johnson took to Twitter to announce his transfer before moving on to Coastal Carolina this month. Quaven Ferguson, arrested for armed robbery in March, had announced his transfer as well prior to that off-field incident.