With the exception of roles in a few very forgettable movies, Brian Bosworth has not been seen or heard from much since his NFL career flamed out in the late-eighties.
20 or so years later, Bosworth is back on center stage. Or, at least, in one of the three rings this NCAA/agent circus has become.
In yet another article from Yahoo! Sports that digs even deeper into the NCAA investigation into the North Carolina football program in general and former UNC assistant John Blake‘s role in it specifically, Bosworth told the website that Blake, who was an assistant during Bosworth’s Oklahoma playing career, initiated contact with agent Gary Wichard prior to the linebacker’s junior season in Norman.
The relationship between Blake and Wichard has been under intense NCAA scrutiny, especially in light of a report from the same website that detailed a financial connection between the two long-time friends during his three years in Chapel Hill. While Bosworth did not mention any financial incentive Blake may have had, he made it clear that Blake was very much the facilitator in the Sooner football program when it came to making introductions to Wichard.
“John said to me, ‘Hey, I’ve set a meeting up with a guy who I really think you need to know, because he’s going to change your world,’ ” Bosworth said. “The only way Gary Wichard got to me was through John Blake. John made it clear that Gary was the only guy I needed to be with. Every meeting that I had with Gary was set up by John. John would even pick me up and take me there, whether it was at a hotel or whatever.
“You have to understand, John was the eyes inside the locker room. He was the fisherman and Gary was the cook. You’ve got to have somebody out there who is going to get the bounty, and Gary’s the one who then goes and sells the bounty. I don’t understand why they would be trying to skirt the truth on that. That is what it was. It was so blatant. … And I know I wasn’t the only player who saw it.
“As time went on, as I realized Gary got Keith [Jackson] out of Oklahoma, then he got Cedric [Jones], and it was like, ‘OK, something’s going on.’ Then Gary got Stephen [Alexander] and then he’s got Aubrey Beavers. I was thinking, ‘OK, there’s a gravy train here, and I hope John isn’t involved in it.’ “
Alexander confirmed to Yahoo! that it was Blake who set up his initial meeting with Wichard.
Again, a coach recommending an agent to a player or giving counsel on representation — provided the school has what’s called a “Professional Sports Counseling Panel”* — is not against NCAA rules. However, if money is exchanged because a coach is funneling players to a particular agent, the coach in effect becomes a runner and runs afoul of NCAA bylaws.
Since Blake began coaching in 1985, Wichard has signed at least 13 players whose college careers have overlapped with Blake’s tenure on college staffs. If the NCAA determines that Blake was acting as a “runner” to deliver players to Wichard, the coach could be subject to bylaw 10.1, which determines unethical conduct of staff members. That bylaw bars the “receipt of benefits by an institutional staff member for facilitating or arranging a meeting between a student-athlete and an agent, financial advisor, or a representative of an agent or financial advisor.”
Lawyers for both Blake and Wichard have denied that the former served as a paid conduit to steer players to the latter, saying instead that the financial relationship between the two — which included a $45,000 personal loan and a Pro Tect Management (Wichard’s company) credit card issued in Blake’s name — was that of a friend helping a friend.
Reportedly, Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Darius, suspended for two games for his role in the agent brouhaha, told NCAA investigators that Blake had recommended Wichard to not only him, but to now-former South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders as well.