RALEIGH, N.C.—The North Carolina Secretary of State's office wants a court to force the NCAA to turn over documents from its investigation of UNC's football program to see if the state's sports agent laws were broken.
In a petition filed Thursday, Elaine Marshall's office is seeking several items from the NCAA's probe, including an unredacted copy of the notice of allegations outlining nine violations as well as records of interviews conducted by NCAA staff -- including ones focused on former associate head coach John Blake.
Blake's close friendship with late NFL agent Gary Wichard has been a key part of both the NCAA and secretary of state's probes. The NCAA began its investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct in June 2010, then Marshall's office followed the next month.
According to the petition, the NCAA refused in July to comply with subpoenas from Marshall's office seeking the records. The two sides failed to resolve the dispute in a phone conversation last month, with the NCAA saying it would only produce documents in response to a subpoena in its home state of Indiana -- and only then with confidential information redacted, according to the petition.
The petition said the NCAA's proposal "would frustrate" the secretary of state's investigation. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 28 in Wake County court. Marshall said in statement that she wouldn't comment publicly on the matter before the hearing.
In an emailed statement, NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said the organization is "disappointed in the action taken" by Marshall's office.
"This came as a surprise to us," she wrote. "We were under the misimpression that we had a cooperative relationship with the office."
Osburn also said that Marshall's office is "creating an unnecessary dispute" between North Carolina and Indiana courts.
"We find it inappropriate and contrary to settled law that the Secretary of State would issue a subpoena without going through an entity of proper jurisdiction, in this case the Indiana Secretary of State," she wrote. "We also find it odd, as it has followed this exact procedure in the past. We are not sure of the Secretary of State's motives or agenda, but we plan to fight this action aggressively in court."
Among the items that Marshall's office is seeking: NCAA interviews with Blake as well as with former Nebraska assistant Marvin Sanders. According to UNC's response to the notice of allegations last month, Sanders learned that Blake had remained in contact with former Cornhuskers defensive lineman and current NFL player Ndamukong Suh -- who Blake had recruited to Nebraska. After speaking with head coach Bo Pelini, Sanders contacted former UNC assistant coach Tommy Thigpen asking Blake to refrain from contacting Nebraska players.
The NCAA has said Blake worked to steer players to Wichard once they reached the NFL and pointed to more than $31,000 in money transferred from Wichard's firm -- Pro Tect Management -- to Blake between May 2007 and October 2009. Blake's attorneys have previously characterized the transactions as loans between friends during tough financial times and said Blake never worked for Wichard
But Marshall's office is also seeking a credit report for Blake, cited in the notice of allegations, that reportedly lists Pro Tect as a previous employer for the coach.
Suh has said previously that Blake never tried to steer him to sign with Wichard.
Marshall's office is also seeking details of interviews with Todd Stewart of Washington, D.C. Stewart was listed in the notice of allegations as being affiliated with "Pro Sports Financial" and providing improper benefits to UNC athletes, though the players' names were redacted.