NEW YORK — A former sports agent tells Sports Illustrated he paid college football players early in his career, and several of them confirm it to the magazine.
In the Oct. 18 edition, Josh Luchs said he paid more than 30 players from 1990-96, including many who didn't sign with him.
He said quarterback Ryan Leaf, the second pick in the 1998 draft who flopped in the pros, took more than $10,000, most of which he voluntarily paid back after signing with another agent. Leaf declined to comment on specific allegations.
Luchs said former Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who played at USC, declined to take money from him.
Luchs told SI he also paid first-round picks Jamir Miller and Chris Mims. Miller, a linebacker from UCLA taken 10th by the Cardinals in 1994, declined comment. Mims, a defensive lineman from Tennessee taken 23rd by San Diego in 1992, died in 2008.
Luchs said that while he was recruiting Ohio State receiver Santonio Holmes in 2005, Holmes said he took money from an agent for a couple of years. Holmes, now with the Jets, denied it.
The NFL Players Association suspended Luchs for a year in 2007 over the handling of a commission check. He said he's talking now because "I don't want my career to be defined by that suspension."
Luchs says he didn't pay players while working with Gary Wichard, the agent linked to the investigation of NCAA violations at North Carolina. But he says Wichard and John Blake, the UNC assistant who resigned amid the investigation, worked together in violation of NCAA rules in 2002.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league has talked to college coaches and agents about reports that a coach was on an agent's payroll.
Luchs also said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper helped Wichard recruit players, describing a 2000 meeting with Stanford defensive lineman Willie Howard in which Wichard had arranged for Kiper to call as he talked with the player.
Kiper told SI he "would never promote Gary or another agent to a player" and denied that the call was prearranged.
Luchs lists more than 20 others he says he paid. UCLA's Chris Alexander, Carl Greenwood, Othello Henderson, Vaughn Parker, Matt Soenksen and Bruce Walker, plus USC's R. Jay Soward and Washington State's Singor Mobley — confirmed it.
UNC APOLOGY: North Carolina receiver Greg Little apologized for his actions that led to the NCAA declaring him "permanently ineligible" amid an investigation into agent-related benefits. Little said he was "terribly remorseful." Monday, the NCAA said Little and defensive end Robert Quinn got gifts and travel accommodations, then lied about it in three separate interviews. The school kicked defensive tackle Marvin Austin off the team for similar reasons.
GEORGIA: Coach Mark Richt suspended starting tailback Caleb King for two games a day after King was charged with failure to appear in court to address a speeding charge. He would be able to return Oct. 30 vs. UF.
KENT STATE: The school will retire Joshua Cribbs' No. 9 jersey, honoring the Cleveland Browns star at halftime of the home game Oct. 30 against Ball State.
MICHIGAN STATE: Cornerback Chris L. Rucker was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated; he has until Oct. 20 to appear for arraignment.
NOTRE DAME: Junior tight end Kyle Rudolph (hamstring) is out for the season.
OKLAHOMA STATE: Receiver Michael Harrison (fractured finger) will miss Saturday's game at Texas Tech.
PENN STATE: Safety Nick Sukay (torn pectoral muscle) is out for the season.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Linebacker Shaq Wilson (hamstring) is likely out for the season, coach Steve Spurrier said.
UCLA: Wide receiver Josh Smith and fullback/tight end Morrell Presley were suspended for the Oct. 21 game at Oregon for violating team rules.
WASHINGTON STATE: Coach Paul Wulff suspended two players arrested after Pullman police found 38 marijuana plants growing in the house that the freshmen — backup linebacker Jamal Atofau and Andre Barrington, who is academically ineligible this semester — and two other people rented.
BASKETBALL: South Carolina guard Ramon Galloway, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, is out 4-6 weeks with a fractured right foot.