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Ex-Florida player under scrutiny

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    Florida and the NCAA are investigating an allegation that Maurkice Pouncey received $100,000 from a representative of a sports agent.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. » As Florida investigates a potential rules violation involving former Gators star Maurkice Pouncey, it’s uncertain what the next move will be.

So far, public responses have been minimal after an ESPN.com report surfaced yesterday that Pouncey allegedly received $100,000 from the associate of a sports agent a month before the 2009 season ended. An unnamed representative allegedly paid Pouncey between Florida’s loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 6 and the Sugar Bowl win over Cincinnati on Jan. 1, ESPN reports.

If the allegations stick, a whole line of questioning unfolds regarding sports agents, whether Florida must vacate its Sugar Bowl victory, if any other players received similar benefits and whether twin brother Mike Pouncey, who is a rising senior at Florida, was involved.

There’s currently no evidence suggesting any of that, and Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley indicated in a statement that there’s no proof of Pouncey taking money.

"We were made aware of some information in early June that we reported to law enforcement and we then shared with the NCAA and the SEC," Foley said in a statement. "At this time we have no information that has indicated that there are any compliance issues for the University of Florida."

After winning the 2009 Rimington Trophy given to the nation’s best center, Pouncey left school a year early and became the 18th overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was one of three Gators drafted in the first round and seven in the first three rounds, a school record.

Mike, who stayed in school to improve his draft stock, is expected to appear at tomorrow’s Southeastern Conference Media Days session in Birmingham, Ala.

Pouncey’s agent is Joel Segal, who also represents former USC running back Reggie Bush, the source of a lengthy NCAA investigation that resulted in a two-year bowl ban, four years probation and loss of scholarships after Bush received improper benefits.

Segal violated Florida state recruiting laws after sending money to a Florida State Seminoles football player in 1995. Segal also represents former Gators Riley Cooper and Percy Harvin.

Sports agent tampering in college football has been highlighted in recent weeks after reported NCAA probes into North Carolina and South Carolina. North Carolina announced last week that the NCAA is investigating an agent’s potential involvement with several players.

Pat Hill takes pay cut

Ending months of speculation, Fresno State coach Pat Hill said yesterday he has agreed to a pay cut and a new contract that will extend his tenure through the 2013 season.

Hill, entering his 14th season at Fresno State, declined to give financial details of the deal, which has yet to be signed. But Hill said he agreed to the pay cut to help the athletic department and the community.

"It’s not about the money," Hill said. "This is home. I believe in this community. I get a lot of satisfaction seeing these kids succeed on the field, with their families and in their careers."

Fresno State announced Dec. 13 that Hill—who makes approximately $1 million per year—had agreed in principle to extend his tenure and that "discussions will begin shortly after the holidays." His current deal runs through Dec. 31.

Hill said Monday he took a pay cut in his base salary and that the incentives in the contract have been altered to make them more difficult to reach.

"I’m really trying to be a team player. … One of the ways I can help is by taking a pay cut," Hill said. "I wanted a chance to get this done here. I have a great group of kids and they deserve it."

Boise State recruit killed

A Boise State football recruit, Emil Smith, has died in a two-vehicle crash in California.

Police in Hemet, Calif., say the 18-year-old Smith and 22-year-old Dimitri Garcia were killed when the car they were in went into the dirt median and spun into oncoming traffic, where it was struck by a minivan.

Smith died at the hospital, while Garcia died at the scene of the crash Saturday evening. Both are from Perris, Calif.

Smith committed to joining Boise State’s 2011 recruiting class last month after attending football camp at the school. He played linebacker at Rancho Verde High in Moreno Valley, Calif.

Boise State spokesman Max Corbet says coach Chris Petersen and his staff are saddened by Smith’s death.

Gamecocks under probe

South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman says the NCAA is investigating a possible rules violation of one of its athletic programs.

Tight end Weslye Saunders, a 6-foot-5, 280-pounder who considered jumping to the NFL but decided to play his senior season with the Gamecocks, has been identified by various media reports as the target of the investigation. Saunders would not discuss his conversations with the NCAA when reached by phone yesterday.

"I don’t want to talk right now," he told the Associated Press.

 

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