Ex-Tar Heel Chris Hawkins arrested in North Carolina sports agent probe

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. -- A former college football player arrested and charged with acting as an agent and violating North Carolina's law that bars illegally luring collegiate athletes into contracts made his initial court appearance Tuesday.

Chris Hawkins appeared via videoconference from the Orange County Jail before District Court Judge Beverly Scarlett.

Scarlett reduced his secured bond to $300,000, though Hawkins remained in jail Tuesday afternoon. The bond had been set at $500,000 when he was arrested Monday.

According to arrest warrants, Hawkins, 32, faces two charges of trying to induce former Tar Heels defensive end Robert Quinn to sign a contract in 2010 -- by giving Quinn $13,700 in cash, and by helping him sell game-used equipment for another $1,700. Quinn now plays for the St. Louis Rams.

Hawkins also is charged with two misdemeanors: intentionally initiating contact with former UNC defensive back Jabari Price in 2013 via Instagram without being a registered agent, and intentionally failing to register as an athlete agent.

Hawkins, a former defensive back at North Carolina and Marshall, was assigned public defender Dana Graves, who said in court she had not yet met with him.

George Jeter, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's office, called it "a strong, solid case" against Hawkins but declined further comment on the overall probe because "this is an active and ongoing investigation."

According to search warrants also unsealed Tuesday in Raleigh, several North Carolina players told investigators that Hawkins arranged meetings with sports agents and financial advisers, both locally and out of state, and attended those meetings and had direct contact with the agents and advisers.

The warrants say that Quinn told North Carolina Secretary of State investigators that Hawkins tried to get him to sign with agent Peter Schaffer and pushed him to financial adviser Marty Blazer, admitting Hawkins gave him more than $13,700 to sign with them.

The warrants also cite an Instagram message sent by Hawkins to Price -- before the Tar Heels played in the Belk Bowl in December 2013 -- that said "Season over... Can we talk about representation."

Kevin Best, a spokesman for UNC's athletic department, issued a statement saying Price took part in the school's agent and advisor program, which since 2013 has helped educate players about permissible and impermissible contact with agents, advisors and representatives. Best added that when Price reported contact from an unnamed person in 2013 to the athletic department, it "promptly alerted" the Secretary of State's office and "continues to support state authorities on the matter."

North Carolina is one of 43 states with a sports agent law. Hawkins is the sixth person to be arrested in the North Carolina Secretary of State's long-running probe connected to improper benefits for Tar Heels football players. That probe began in summer 2010 amid an NCAA investigation into the program.

Five people were indicted in September 2013, including Georgia-based agent Terry Watson, though prosecutor Jim Woodall later dropped the charge against a former UNC tutor charged in the case.

The earlier charges centered around Quinn, a star defensive end, as well as defensive tackle Marvin Austin and receiver Greg Little.

None of those three played a snap for UNC in 2010, with the NCAA ruling Quinn and Little permanently ineligible. UNC dismissed Austin from the team.

They were all selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft the next spring, with Quinn going the highest at No. 14 to the Rams and becoming a Pro Bowler.

The NCAA suspended current Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green five years ago when he was at Georgia for selling his Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000 to Hawkins, saying at the time that it regarded Hawkins as an agent.

Dick Baddour, North Carolina's athletic director at the time, said then that Hawkins, who had been seen around the team's facility periodically at the time, was no longer welcome around the program.