Austin: Vontae is my lifelong friend. You know what I’m saying? I’ve knew this man forever … Before he got rich or whatever you want to say, before he was who he is now … I was out there working out with him, grinding with him. So I don’t understand why it’s a problem for him to — you know what I’m saying — bring me down. People take trips all the time. You know what I’m saying? People bring their friends and stuff down all the time. So I’m kind of like shocked like why is it such a problem for him to do that for me?
But investigators focused in on the role of Todd Stewart, who had a long-standing personal relationship with Austin.
Chance Miller (NCAA): Do you know who booked that (Miami) trip for (Austin)?
Todd Stewart: I would say it was — I wanna say my girlfriend. I think my girlfriend, but she used my card that time I think. My girlfriend did. No, I did. I did. I did. I did. I’m so — I ain’t gonna lie about it.
Meanwhile, Austin maintained he didn’t know Stewart’s occupation. But Austin did say he spoke often to Gary Wichard, a sports agent affiliated with then-assistant coach John Blake.
Austin: … Obviously (Wichard) and Coach Blake had a relationship that I’m a rite of passage to go to this man. You know what I’m saying? So … people would say stuff like that. So I don’t think Coach Blake would be even caught talking to me, you know, saying like that, because he knows like, you know, people think this or think that or whatever, you know, saying that. I don’t think Coach Blake cared …
Blake resigned in fall 2010. But Austin said he never talked to Blake or then-head coach Butch Davis, who was fired in July 2011, about agents.
Miller: Do you talk to your coaches any about … agents, financial advisers?
Austin: Not really, you know what I’m saying, ‘cause I’m gonna be really wondering putting me in a position where they feel uncomfortable …
Miller: Coach Blake doesn’t talk to you about agents?
Austin: No, he told me to stay away from ‘em.
The name of former academic tutor Jennifer Wiley also makes an appearance in an interview with former wide receiver Greg Little, who made the same trip to Miami with Austin. Little said Wiley bought the plane ticket for him, though he reimbursed her for it.
Miller: Why’d you have Jennifer book it?
Little: … I called her up and she said, “As long as you pay me back, I have no problem with it.”
Miller: Are you pretty close with Jennifer?
Little: I’m really close with Jennifer.
Meanwhile, nearly a month after he was first questioned by the NCAA, Austin made clear the personal toll the investigation was taking on him.
Austin: … For a trip to Miami, like this shit is so taxing, man. It was never meant to even — to do that. You know, so I was going to have fun with my homeboy … It’s disheartening to see all of this stuff, you know, say all of the media attention, all of that stuff, man. I’ve got to talk to my mother and my sister, all of that stuff, man. It’s disheartening.
Senior Writers Kelly Parsons, Nicole Comparato, Sarah Glen and Kevin Uhrmacher contributed reporting.
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