Yahoo! Sports, known for their exhaustive investigative reporting on NCAA eligibility violations, released a report yesterday regarding alleged improper benefits received by UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin. Austin was suspended from the UNC football team after allegations surfaced indicating he took improper benefits by attending a party hosted by an agent in Miami. According to Yahoo!, the probe is much deeper than previously expected.
Yahoo!'s Charles Robinson went further with his report, digging through hotel reciepts and focusing on a trip to California taken by Austin in 2009. Austin spent a week in Thousand Oaks, California, staying, expense free, in a hotel for the duration of the trip. Austin trained with former-Tarheel and close-friend Kentwan Balmer, now with the Seattle Seahawks.
The report focuses on who paid for Austin's trip and accommodations. If Pro Tect paid for Austin's accommodations, it's a clear violation of NCAA rules regarding amateurism. If Balmer paid for the stay, as a lawyer for both the agent and Balmer asserts, it's not. Austin's lawyer also maintains that the UNC player was under the impression Balmer took care of everything.
"Marvin's position has always been consistent that he was told by his close friend and ex-teammate Kentwan Balmer that he would take care of the expenses for the room," Lyons said. "He would have no knowledge of anything other than that."
The NCAA will surely seek-out Balmer while investigating UNC and Austin. Unless Balmer covered up for the agency, it doesn't appear he did anything wrong, but he will be a key in the case against Austin and the UNC football program.
Stay tuned as the investigation continues to unfold.