Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks, a first-round pick from North Carolina in 2009, played his final college season despite being academically ineligible, according to a report in today’s Charlotte Observer.
The newspaper reported the university acknowledged that Nicks received improper academic help in the spring of 2008 from a tutor who had been implicated in an NCAA investigation into the school. The NCAA termed Nicks’ situation “academic fraud,” according to the Observer.
Nicks could not be reached for comment. His agent, Peter Schaffer, told the paper, “We have no knowledge of that whatsoever.” Schaffer added, “It’s low on the totem pole of relevant issues.”
A Giants' spokesman said this morning the team would have no comment.
According to the Observer, the school will now use an asterisk in the school’s media guides next to Nicks’ career and single-season receiving records. The asterisk will be accompanied by an explanation, “participation later vacated due to NCAA penalty.”
Nicks’ name had initially surfaced in the NCAA inquiry in 2010, when the school named him as one of three former players to provided “impermissible assistance” to current Tar Heels players. According to the report, Nicks had given $3,300.
North Carolina is ineligible to play in the ACC championship game or a bowl game after the 2012 season, and the university has lost scholarships for players. Additionally, all 16 of their wins from the 2008 and 2009 seasons are being removed from record books.
Nicks played three seasons at North Carolina and caught 181 passes for 2,840 yards and 21 touchdowns. He set a school record for most career receiving yards and his 1,222 receiving yards in 2008 were a school record.
Nicks declared for the 2009 NFL draft, and the Giants took him with the 29th overall pick. He has turned into a key member of the team that won last year’s Super Bowl. Nicks, who has more than 70 receptions and 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons, had 10 catches for 109 yards in the Giants’ Super Bowl win over the Patriots.