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Headlinin’: Marvin Austin’s alleged money man denies all charges

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Making the morning rounds.

It wasn't me. Todd Stewart, an "adviser" and family friend to former North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin (right) who was formally accused by the NCAA of providing more than $7,000 in benefits to Austin and two other UNC players, vehemently denied all charges in a lengthy interview with the The (Raleigh) News & Observer and Charlotte Observer last Friday. According to the NCAA, Stewart was an employee of Pro Sports Financial, a financial advising group based in Forth Lauderdale, Fla., and footed the bill for Austin's infamous South Beach party trip in April 2010. But Stewart told the Observer(s) that he's known Austin for 10 years, long before he became one of the most hyped recruits in the country, and has never been connected to Pro Sports Financial.

"I didn't pay no seven thousand dollars for nobody to do nothing. That's ridiculous," Stewart said last week. "My name is out there for what went on, but it's untrue. It's all lies. … At the end of the day, the NCAA needed to pin it on somebody, and I was the only one who would talk to them."

That's not much solace for North Carolina fans: Even if Stewart's story holds up, the NCAA pinned upwards of $20,000 in improper benefits on a dozen other sources, and connected Austin to an NFL agent through his position coach. Denials may not do anything for Stewart's reputation, either: Generally speaking, once the NCAA declares someone dirty, it tends to stand its ground. [Charlotte Observer]

We're still here. Following up on his first call to the lawyers of America in April, Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff issued another request Wednesday for antitrust firms willing to join his long-pending lawsuit against the Bowl Championship Series. Shurtleff has periodically targeted the Series as an illegal monopoly since Utah was snubbed by the BCS title game despite thumping Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to clinch the nation's only perfect record in 2008, an opinion that's earned enough traction in the meantime to have the executive director of the BCS hauled in front of the Department of Justice sometime in the next few weeks to answer the charge.

"There are serious antitrust violations in the BCS system that are robbing taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars," Shurtleff said in a prepared statement. "Putting together the strongest legal team from around the country will give us the best chance at bringing equity back to college football." BCS head Bill Hancock, as usual, was on (counter)point: "The BCS was carefully created with antitrust laws in mind and we remain confident that the BCS is a pro-competitive force in college football." [Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune]{YSP:MORE}

I can't imagine why you would want to avoid an open, honest accounting of this relationship. The Fiesta Bowl, tired of waiting for the money to come in from the repayment requests it sent out to politicians who had received free trips or game tickets, has formally asked 31 Arizona politicians to explain how they benefited the bowl in order to justify the gifts. It's not just about the bottom line: To maintain its tax-exempt status, the scandal-plagued organization must try to recover any money it spent outside of IRS rules — in this case, on the (probably) illegal fundraisers, gifts and campaign contributions that constituted the Fiesta Bowl's lobbying efforts under ousted CEO John Junker.

So far, though, pols have only paid back a paltry $7,311, and some have flatly refused to send the bowl a check for anything. [Associated Press]

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We'll take him. Former Missouri quarterback Tyler Gabbert, younger brother of outgoing Tiger starter/first-round draft pick Blaine Gabbert, has reportedly agreed to enroll at Louisville. Gabbert has an existing relationship with Cardinal offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, who earned early verbal commitments from both Gabbert Brothers  as OC at Nebraska, and should compete for the starting job in 2012 with the winner of this year's duel between junior Will Stein and hyped incoming freshman Teddy Bridgewater. [Columbia Tribune]

They're watching you upstairs. The Colonial Athletic Association is proposing legislation that will give FCS players five years of eligibility instead of four, eliminating the concept of the "redshirt." The CAA claims the plan will help reduce injuries and improve grades — commissioner Tom Yeager cited NCAA studies indicating (counterintuitively) that players who redshirt their first year don't perform as well academically as those who play right away — and if it actually succeeds, expect FBS coaches to swarm to the idea like starved bees. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Quickly… Luke Fickell is commanding the attention of Ohio's palest children for his annual football camp. … A former Texas quarterback is pursuing Dallas' most orange women for a Bravo "reality" show. … Boise State loses an incoming recruit to pro baseball. … Andy Staples thinks the NCAA will be forced to give Oregon a pass. … Georgia routinely sends cease-and-desist letters to eBay users selling items autographed by active players. … The Big East's best pass rusher is finally learning to play. … Ohio State fans say "Vacate this." … Jon Solomon reveals an old magician's trick. … I'm still looking for someone to confirm that this is actually A.J. McCarron's tattoo. … Marcell Dareus ain't no millionaire yet. … And this is the only blog post most of you need to read until the games actually begin.

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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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