Former North Carolina and current San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer paid for college teammates Marvin Austin and Cam Thomas to travel to California in the summer of 2009, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
"Twan paid for [the trip]," said Thomas, a rookie defensive tackle for the Chargers, according to the report. Thomas did not provide additional details.
Thomas told the paper he and Austin worked out at Proactive Sports Performance in Westlake Village, Calif., the summer before last season.
Balmer, Thomas and Austin all played defensive tackle for the Tar Heels in 2007. Their position coach that year, John Blake, is being investigated by the NCAA for his relationship with agent Gary Wichard.
CollegeFootballTalk.com notes that Proactive Sports Performance is located two miles from Wichard’s company, Pro Tect Management. Several Wichard clients have trained at Proactive Sports Management before the draft, the site notes, and Wichard is Balmer’s agent.
The NCAA has made trips to Chapel Hill in July and August to interview Austin and other players about possibly receiving improper benefits from agents. Austin reportedly has been asked about being seen driving Balmer’s vehicle. He is also reported to have stayed at Balmer’s apartment during the offseason.
According to the NCAA’s "preferential treatment" bylaw, student-athletes can’t accept "preferential treatment, benefits or services because of the individual’s athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete, unless such treatment, benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation."
If Austin and Thomas are found to have violated NCAA rules, then any games they played in after the violation may have to be forfeited. That would require North Carolina to forfeit its entire 2009 season.