Terry Watson, an ex-NFL agent who represented Cortland Finnegan and a handful of other players, agreed to a plea deal in a North Carolina court this afternoon and was sentenced to a suspended jail sentence of six-to-eight months for providing three NFL-bound UNC players with money in 2010. Because his sentence is suspended, it will kick in if he doesn’t pay a $5,000 fine or complete 30 months probation. Watson agreed to plead guilty to 13 charges of athlete-agent inducement in exchange for prosecutors dropping a felony obstruction of justice charge.
The state of North Carolina began to investigate UNC’s athletic program in 2010, shortly after the NCCA started the investigation which led to the school’s ongoing academic fraud scandal. Charges against Watson and four others were announced in the fall of 2013, after which Watson had his license as an agent revoked by the NFLPA. He was accused of providing around $24,000 to Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin, and Greg Little in cash and benefits in an attempt to get them to sign with him. Watson maintained his innocence until a former associate testified against him earlier this afternoon.
Watson is somewhat of a small fish, but N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall made a point about the state’s desire to crack down on shady agent practices:
“Years ago when this all began, people in the athlete agent industry scoffed at us for looking into these cases,” North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall said in a statement. “They said ‘This is how it works and you can’t change it.’ But today, everyone in that business knows that when you come to North Carolina, you had better follow the law. And if you don’t, we can and we will enforce the law.”