Heels wideout says sorry|Little apologizes after NCAA ruling

Published 10:35 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2010

By By AARON BEARD, AP Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina receiver Greg Little apologized Tuesday for his actions that led to the NCAA declaring him ‘‘permanently ineligible’’ amid an investigation into agent-related benefits.
Little released a statement through the school Tuesday, apologizing to teammates, coaches, alumni and fans for ‘‘letting them down’’ and said he was ‘‘terribly remorseful.’’
‘‘My situation should not take away from any of the team’s current accomplishments or future accomplishments,’’ Little said. ‘‘Now that I am no longer a part of the program, I hope my actions will not distract the team any longer.’’
On Monday, the NCAA said Little and defensive end Robert Quinn each received gifts and travel accommodations, then lied about it in three separate interviews. The ruling came the same day the school kicked defensive tackle Marvin Austin off the team for similar reasons.
The NCAA probe launched over the summer and focused initially on whether Little and Austin received improper benefits, though it later expanded to include possible academic violations involving a tutor.
The decisions on Little, Quinn and Austin provided some resolution for the program regarding the most prominent names linked to the investigation, though the status of six players remains in question even as the Tar Heels (3-2) near the midway point of the season.
In addition, cornerback Kendric Burney — an NFL prospect who has yet to play this season — must serve one more game to complete an NCAA suspension for receiving improper benefits connected to trips. Other key contributors like safeties Deunta Williams (four games) and Da’Norris Searcy (three games), as well as tailback Shaun Draughn (one game) have missed time due to the probe.
Little and Austin were two of six players who decided to return for their senior seasons instead of pursuing an NFL career, while Quinn is a junior regarded as a first-round draft prospect. They were supposed to lead North Carolina’s resurgence this season, yet never even made it on the field.
‘‘It’s pretty tough not having those guys,’’ tailback Johnny White said Tuesday, ‘‘but I think we’re strong enough mentally that we’ll just overcome it and move on.’’
The school said it wouldn’t appeal the NCAA ruling. Butch Williams, Little’s Durham-based attorney, didn’t immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.
Little said he planned to continue his education and community work through the semester.
‘‘There are defining moments in everyone’s life,’’ Little said. ‘‘I will use this as one of mine to shape and mold my morals and values as a person. My time at UNC came to an abrupt conclusion, but I will forever be a proud supporter of the Tar Heels and the University of North Carolina.’’