North Carolina Notice of Allegations targets John Blake, Jennifer Wiley

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As we posted earlier, the University of North Carolina received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA today following a nearly year-long investigation into the program over alleged impermissible benefits provided to players and academic fraud.

UNC has just sent out the official NOA containing allegations of violation of NCAA bylaws, but here is a quick run down of the allegations:

Allegations against former assistant coach John Blake:

  • Unethical conduct for providing false and misleading information to the NCAA enforcement staff and to the institution and for failure to cooperate with the investigation.
  • Marketed athletic abilities of student-athletes to agent Gary Wichard.
  • Received outside income that he did not report to the institution (NOA claims $31,000).

Allegations against alumna Jennifer Wiley:

  • Unethical conduct for refusing to provide information to the NCAA enforcement staff and to the institution.
  • Provided extra benefits to student-athletes in the form of travel and parking expenses, and tutoring (the allegations claim Wiley paid $1,789 in parking violations on Aug. 20, 2010 for an unnamed student-athlete).

Allegations of academic fraud against student-athletes and the tutor

Allegations that student-athletes received preferential treatment and accepted impermissible benefits (the NOA claims over $27,000).

Allegations against a former student-athlete for unethical conduct

Failure by the institution to adequately monitor the conduct of Chris Hawkins, an individual triggering NCAA agent legislation; the social media activity of the football team for a period in 2010; and possible extra benefits to a student-athlete triggered by agent legislation.

Noticeably absent from the 42-page NOA? Head coach Butch Davis, who apparently had zero clue as to what was going on with all of this.

The following responses were issued by UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp, AD Dick Baddour and coach Davis.

Thorp:

“I deeply regret that Carolina is in this position. We made mistakes, and we have to face that. When the investigation started a year ago, we pledged to cooperate fully with the NCAA, to go where the facts took us, and to face the issues head on. Our level of cooperation is evident in the allegations, some of which arise from facts that we self-reported to the NCAA. We will emerge with a stronger athletics program, and we will restore confidence in Carolina football.”

Baddour:

“We are disappointed to be in this position because it goes against everything we believe in, but we are thankful to get to the next step in the process. These are the issues that we have been dealing with since last summer. We will gather the information the NCAA has requested and prepare to address the notice with the NCAA in the fall. We have a strong staff that will help get us through this and put us in a position where we will be a better athletic department as a result. Our fans have been through a lot this past year, and we appreciate their continued patience and support as we work through these next steps with the NCAA.”

Davis:

“I feel terrible that these allegations occurred under my watch. I especially regret that the university has had to endure this scrutiny because of the football program. The responsibility for correcting any problems that put us in this position is mine, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

“I want to thank our fans for the tremendous support we have received. Their loyalty and support has been especially appreciated by our student-athletes. The opportunity I have to serve the University of North Carolina is one that I cherish, and I will continue to focus on improving every aspect of our football program.”

UNC received a Notice of Inquiry from the NCAA two weeks ago and will have 90 days to respond to the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions regarding the aforementioned allegations. The COI would consider UNC’s case during its meeting in late October.

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.

WATCH: 338-pound Wisconsin nose tackle nails beach backflip

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Yeah, this is absolutely fantastic. And extremely impressive.

Up until now, Olive Sagapolu has been mainly known to most nationally for his prowess on the football field. Entering his fourth-year season in Madison, Sagapolu has started 23 games during his time with the Badgers, including 10 in a 2017 season that saw him earn honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.

As it turns out, though, Sagapolu’s athleticism isn’t confined to merely on the field as, in this video sent out through UW’s official football Twitter account, the 6-2, 336-pound starting nose tackle lands a backflip on a beach in Hawaii.

To repeat: the man in that video weighs 336 pounds. 336 pounds.

Then again, it shouldn’t be all that surprising given the fact that Sagapolu spent a portion of his senior year at football powerhouse Mater Dei High School in California as a member of the varsity cheerleading squad. Seriously.

“In a way, (cheerleading) does help because it shows how athletic I can be and I’m getting,” Sagapolu said by way of 247Sports.com way back in August of 2015. “I mean, I’m about a 300-pound guy doing a backflip. You don’t really see that a lot. Doing these other kinds of tricks also helps with hand-eye coordination. It does help with football. …

“(People) were definitely surprised seeing me on the cheerleading team. They thought it was funny seeing… a big guy like me. For me, it is shocking to see the reaction from people’s faces. … Just the whole thing about cheerleading is very different from football. It was something I wanted to do for my senior year and have fun with it.”

Tennessee’s Will Ignont to have weed charge dismissed

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A legal journey for one Tennessee football player that began last year is coming to an end.

In October of 2017, former UT running back John Kelly and current Vols linebacker Will Ignont (pictured, left) were cited for marijuana possession following a traffic stop. Kelly was the driver of the vehicle, Ignont a passenger.

Tuesday, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported, Ignont “received a pass disposition and will have his charge dismissed with court costs assessed.” Kelly, selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the 2018 NFL draft, pleaded guilty in the same court appearance.

Both Ignont and Kelly were suspended for the Kentucky game as a result of the incident, but returned the following week.

Ignont was a four-star member of the Vols’ 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 16 inside linebacker in the country. He played in six games as a true freshman and was credited with six tackles, one of which went for a loss.