Friday, October 28, 2011

Blake's future could hinge on hearing

INDIANAPOLIS - Former associate head coach John Blake’s defense may turn out to be the most elaborate part of today’s NCAA Committee on Infractions hearing on the investigation of the UNC-Chapel Hill’s football program.

In their written response to the NCAA, UNC officials largely agreed with most of the nine major violations charged by the NCAA in its Notice of Allegations. UNC objected to some of the allegations in the NCAA’s “failure to monitor” charge, particularly the one that said the school should have been monitoring its athletes’ social media posts.

UNC still needs to explain to the committee the many changes it has made to its monitoring and academic support programs, but doesn’t seem inclined to dispute many of the charges based on the written response.

For Blake, on the other hand, the hearing is an opportunity to present his version of events to the NCAA. Prominent Raleigh lawyer Wade Smith and Florida lawyer William Beaver began laying out some of their answers to questions about Blake in September of 2010.

They told reporters from selected outlets, including the News & Observer and Charlotte Observer, that money Blake received from the late sports agent Gary Wichard was given as gifts or loans to pay private school tuition for Blake’s son, who is Wichard’s godson.

They said a credit card issued to Blake by Wichard’s agency was used to buy T-shirts for a camp Blake was running for youths several years ago. They said they had affidavits from athletes he coached saying that Blake did not try to steer them to Wichard’s agency. Blake and his lawyers laid out their case in even more detail in a story published Wednesday on Sports Illustrated’s web site.

Their aim is to clear Blake’s name so that he doesn’t face an NCAA “show cause order” that would list restrictions that could make it difficult for an NCAA school to hire him.

Blake and his lawyers spent about 45 minutes in the NCAA’s hearing room this morning, then left. It appears that UNC is presenting its case this morning, and Blake will get a chance to defend himself this afternoon.
His career, at least as a college coach, may be hanging in the balance.

Asked what he wants out of the hearing, Blake replied briefly, “The truth.”
The circumstantial evidence against Blake is significant. He was listed from 2001 until 2004 on the website for Wichard’s agency, Pro Tect Management, as vice president for football operations.

He had contact with many top defensive line draft prospects, including Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska and Marcell Dareus of Alabama, when he wasn’t coaching them. Suh told the News & Observer and Charlotte Observer that Blake didn’t try to steer him to Wichard; Dareus reportedly told Sports Illustrated the same thing.

The standard for the Committee on Infractions to make a finding is credible and persuasive information that can reasonably relied upon.
That’s different from the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that applies to a jury in a criminal trial. Smith, one of Blake’s lawyers, is well known for successfully arguing, point by point, against prosecutors when beyond a reasonable doubt applies.

He may try to do it again this afternoon. But it may be more difficult for Smith and Blake to win when the standard is credible and persuasive evidence.

Ken Tysiac


Chewie Justice said...

Who ya gonna believe? John Blake and crowd can't possibly manage to keep up with all the lies and tales of innocence. Start talking Big John and reveal the mystery behind the Carolina Curtain regarding the Carolina Way of doing things and appearing to be righteous.

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in my opinion dear blogger, I think that Blake's future is very promising, but he has to be careful and take care of himself by not partying and keep a healthy lifestyle