Originally posted at 4:16 a.m.
Late Wednesday evening this story broke from Birmingham, Alabama:
This article explains how Tide player Marcell Dareus was lured to an agent’s party in Miami in “the middle of May.”Â Â Given what we have learned over the past few days about the travel and party attendance of some UNC-CH players, this is nowÂ getting reallyÂ ”interesting.”
Who lured him to this party?Â I will let portions of the excellent Birmingham News articleÂ written by Don Kausler, Jr.Â speak for itself:
As his mother lay dying in her Birmingham home, Marcell Dareus couldn’t cope. He had to get away.
It was the middle of May. Spring classes at the University of Alabama were over. Summer classes and football conditioning didn’t start until early June.
Along came an invitation from a friend to fly to Miami. The chance to hang out in South Beach sounded good, so off Dareus went to chill in the sun, sand and warm water.
Dareus attended the party but claims he was lured to Miami under a false pretense, a source close to the family said. When Dareus discovered there were agents at the party, he asked to leave. Then he received grim news that his mother, Michelle Luckey, had died, and he abruptly returned to Birmingham.
The friend who arranged the trip was Marvin Austin, a star defensive lineman at North Carolina, a source close to the Dareus family said. Austin appears to be a central figure in a growing NCAA investigation into possible improper dealings between agents and college football players.
When Dareus made a recruiting visit to North Carolina during his senior year at Huffman High School, his host was Austin, then a freshman. The two players bonded.
As Alabama rolled last fall toward an undefeated season, Austin said if the Crimson Tide won the national championship, he would pay for a trip for Dareus anywhere, a source close to the Dareus family said.
The plane fare to Miami was paid for by Austin, but when Dareus arrived in Miami, he paid Austin for the ticket and received a receipt, the source said. Austin also arranged for a hotel room, but the source said Dareus did not use the room.
Wow!Â I really don’t know where to start here, but some of that sounded vaguely important so I guess we should talk about it.
I have to say that what started (for me anyway) as a light-hearted rompÂ centering around Â funny pictures is morphing into something else.Â What exactly the something else is I don’t know.
Assuming that article is accurate, and given that that articleÂ raises a lot of potential issues,Â I am going to throw some questions out there for discussion.
1. Â Where didÂ Austin get the money toÂ pay for his friend’s plane fare?Â
2. HowÂ did Austin “arrange” for hotel rooms?Â Who paid for the rooms?
3. What is Austin’s relationship to the agent that organized the party/trip?
4. Who is this agent?
5. Is this agent connected to other figures in this story?Â How?Â Is this agent connected to any UNC-CH coaches?
6 Why are these guys giving each other receipts?
7. Did I leave the iron on?
That last one was a joke by the way.Â (It is my goal to include an “Airplane!” reference once every few entries).Â
I should mention that, from what I can gather, the timeframe of the party mentioned in the above articleÂ overlaps with the mid-May festivities we have written about (remember the pictures of Greg Little in Miami on May 15th*see footnotes*), not Memorial Day weekend.Â Dareus’ mom sadly passed away May 18th.
Now, dovetailing here is a comment made by Nick Saban as quoted by asthevalleyshook.com, an LSU fan site.Â This site quotes Saban as saying:
“In this case, the agent used a player to get other players to come somewhere where the agents could meet them.”
Now, read the Birmingham article quoted above in concert with that Saban comment.Â Is Austin is the “one player” Saban is talking about?
If Austin was working for an agent facilitating plane flights and hotel accomodations to bring other players from around the country to that agent (while Twittering about half of it), what does that tell us about the “institutional control” UNC-CH has over its football program?
We will work to keep on top of this story as it develops.
Are UNC-CH people still confident that this will blow over?