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Ante upped: UNC’s Marvin Austin subpoenaed

North Carolina defensive lineman Marvin Austin has had, shall we say, a rather interesting last couple of months. From being at the heart of an NCAA investigation into illicit player-agents to a suspension for the season opener, Austin has created more news off the field than, even as outstanding a player as he is, he created on it.

Unfortunately for Austin, his summer has just gotten a whole helluva lot more interesting. And serious.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, the Associated Press is reporting that Austin has been subpoenaed by the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office. It was reported back in July that Secretary of State Elaine Marshall‘s office had launched an investigation into whether there has been any improper contact between agents and players, and whether any state sports agent laws have been broken.

A spokesman for the office would not confirm the subpoena, only that there’s “an active, ongoing inquiry at this time.”

The affect of the subpoena has the potential to be far reaching according to an unnamed NFL agent CFT spoke to this evening. Austin could now be compelled to answer questions under fear of perjury or produce documents related to the investigation. If he were to lie to investigators, for instance, he could find himself facing jail time. If he tells the truth, and agents or their minions are involved in doling out impermissible benefits, they could be facing jail time -- up to 15 months, in fact -- for fracturing state laws.

In other words, the State of North Carolina has upped the stakes significantly with this latest move, and are clearly out to uncover any and all wrongdoing.

At the center of a controversy that’s now nearly two months old are trips taken by several players at different schools to South Beach, and whether any illegal benefits -- airfare, hotel accommodations, etc. -- were given to players by agents or their associates. Alabama’s Marcel Dareus has already received a two-game suspension as a result of the investigation and is required to pay back nearly $1,800 for the illegal benefits he received, while two other players central to the probe -- Austin and South Carolina’s Weslye Saunders --have been suspended for the opener for issues unrelated to the NCAA issues.

A total of 12 Tar Heels players will definitely miss UNC’s opener Saturday as a result of the agent inquiry and a subsequent academic -- six have been suspended outright, while another six are being held out as a precaution. Additionally, three other players did not make the trip to Atlanta as the school attempts to sort out their eligibility.