Several former Nebraska football players say that a now-convicted financial advisor and stockbroker gave them illegal benefits while they were in school and then later stole money from them, reports Julie Steinberg of TheWall Street Journal.
Steve Octavien, who played for the Huskers from 2005 to 2007, says that Mary Wong, who resided in Omaha, paid his rent, cellphone bills, car insurance and other expenses while he was in school.
The NCAA defines extra benefits as “any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution’s athletic interests (including fans) to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete’s relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by the NCAA legislation.”
A Nebraska spokeswoman says the school will take action if warranted if they find that any current or former student-athlete broke NCAA rules.
Octavien, who played for the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys, says he handed over his $80,000 signing bonus in 2008 when he entered the NFL. He says he met Wong three years earlier and was in financial need because his scholarship didn’t cover all of his living expenses.
Wong also advised other NFL players such as Michael Vick. She pleaded guilty in 2010 to securities fraud, was sentenced to a 63-month in prison and ordered pay more than $3 million in restitution.
Daniel Bullocks, who played for Nebraska from 2001 to 2005, says financial advisers offered him gifts and cash payments of $5,000 while he was in school, often showing up out of the blue. He says he never took anything from anyone while enrolled in school.
“They would just know where the guys hang out,” Bullocks said.
After Bullocks left school, he, his twin brother and another Nebraska player Demorrio Williams formed a limited-liability investment company, Williams & Bullocks LLC, with Wong and gave her power of attorney. The FBI later told Bullocks that Wong used the power of attorney to transfer to her account instead of investing it in real estate.
Another Nebraska player Marlon Lucky, who played running back at the school from 2005 to 2009, says he and Wong flew to Atlanta on a private jet for spring break, bought him a suit during the trip and gave him $800, money he spent on Christmas presents for relatives.
"It was obvious she wanted to take me on as a client." Lucky said. “I figured [she] was kind of grooming me.”
Octavien, who is now married with a newborn daughter, says he doesn’t trust anyone with his money and will read the fine print on a contract several times.
- Scooby Axson