Former University of North Carolina associate head coach John Blake called Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus this summer and lobbied for him to consider employing agent Gary Wichard, an Alabama source confirmed Sunday.
Dareus reported the information to the NCAA when it interviewed him during its investigation into violations of improper benefits received by Dareus and players at several other schools, including North Carolina.
Blake resigned his coaching position with the Tar Heels last month in the wake of the NCAA investigation, which expanded to include his relationship with Wichard. The relationship between Dareus and Blake dates to when Blake recruited Dareus out of Birmingham to come to North Carolina.
Dareus, the NCAA determined, received $1,787 in airfare, hotel, transportation and meals to attend a party last spring in Miami Beach. He paid that amount to charity and the NCAA suspended him for the first two games of the season.
The NCAA expanded its investigation of Blake, a former employee of Wichard, and his financial relationship with the agent. He resigned from the university shortly thereafter. Yahoo! Sports has reported that Wichard's ties with Blake are so deep that the agent's firm issued Blake a credit card. Blake's attorneys said their client has received loans from Wichard but that he never steered players to the agent in return.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com.