Man who bought Green’s jersey faces drug charges
ATLANTA (AP) – The former player linked to the suspension of Georgia receiver A.J. Green faces a felony drug charge from an arrest during a traffic stop in Georgia last year.
Chris Hawkins, 28, is charged with felony trafficking of cocaine and misdemeanor marijuana possession stemming from the April 2009 incident. The former North Carolina and Marshall defensive back, who bought the jersey in a transaction that led to Green’s four-game NCAA suspension, is due in court on the drug charges next month.
Green has missed two games for selling an Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000, and the NCAA ruled Hawkins qualified as an agent. The school is appealing the ruling and an NCAA committee is set to hear the case Friday.
Page Pate, an Atlanta-based attorney who is representing Hawkins in the drug case, said Hawkins “has never seen himself as an agent.” In an interview with ESPN.com, Hawkins said he bought the jersey as a collector.
According to a report from the Georgia State Patrol, authorities stopped Hawkins for not wearing a seat belt while driving a U-haul truck filled with furniture on Interstate 20 near Madison, Ga. A drug-sniffing dog led authorities to 96 grams of crack cocaine wrapped in tape, peanut butter and pepper, the report said.
Authorities also found a small amount of marijuana in Hawkins’ pocket, according to the report.
The truck was rented by NFL running back Willie Parker, Hawkins’ former teammate at North Carolina. Parker told authorities he had purchased the furniture in Miami for his mother’s house in North Carolina and Hawkins was moving the furniture for him, according to the report.
Pate said there’s no reason to believe Hawkins or Parker knew about the drugs.
“Chris has always denied having any knowledge there were any drugs in the back of that U-Haul truck stuffed in the furniture,” Pate said. “He was not present during the loading of that furniture, he didn’t purchase that furniture and didn’t inspect it.”
Hawkins is free on $50,000 bond.
Hawkins’ relationships with players have also come under scrutiny at North Carolina, where he played from 2001-03 before being kicked off the team for breaking team rules and playing his final season at Marshall. Athletic director Dick Baddour said Thursday that Hawkins had been around the football facility and team “periodically” over the years, but that the school has told him he is no longer welcome.
“We’ve encouraged former players in all of our sports to come around,” Baddour said. “I would say it raises an issue of when they come around, does that mean we should do more to try to understand what they do and how they might impact our players? Yes, it does.
“We’ve got one guy (in question) and a long history of former players coming around in all of our sports.”
Baddour wouldn’t comment specifically on how long Hawkins had been around the North Carolina program or when he was barred from it, citing the confidentiality of an ongoing NCAA probe in Chapel Hill into agent-related benefits and possible academic misconduct involving a tutor. He also said the school wasn’t aware of Hawkins’ pending drug charges until they surfaced in media reports this week.
Pate declined to comment regarding the North Carolina connection.
Thirteen Tar Heels were held out of the opening loss against LSU due to the probe. Only one player from that group, tailback Shaun Draughn, has been cleared as of Thursday evening to return for Saturday’s home opener against Georgia Tech.