|AUSTIN NOW A N.Y. GIANT (Patrick E. McCarthy/Long Island Newsday)|
In search warrants unsealed Monday, investigators with the Secretary of State's office say Terry Watson of the Watson Sports Agency sent $2,000 cash in 2010 to Marvin Austin, who was dismissed from the team that year for receiving improper benefits. They also say Watson had contact with players before registering with the state.
The office launched its probe in 2010 shortly after the start of an NCAA investigation at the school. The law prohibits agents from offering gifts before a contract is signed and can lead to criminal or civil penalties.
Both North Carolina and Georgia are among 42 states with laws regulating sports agents.
When she launched that investigation, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said the focus was not on athletes or schools -- but on the agents and anyone giving athletes items of value. The state's Uniform Athletes Agents Act requires agents to register with Marshall's office and is designed to shield athletes from sports agents who would offer gifts to entice them to sign representation contracts.
It is a Class I felony to violate the law, meaning a maximum prison sentence of 15 months, and violations also could carry civil penalties of up to $25,000. Prosecution of the law is left to district attorneys in the locations where violations are alleged to have occurred.
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