Steelers first-round draftee Maurkice Pouncey is being investigated by the NCAA and, by all appearances, Florida authorities over an allegation that he accepted $100,000 from an undisclosed agent's representative before playing in the Florida Gators' Sugar Bowl victory.
Any finding wouldn't imperil the professional career of Pouncey, a center and guard who has yet to sign with the Steelers.
If the NCAA finds that Pouncey took money from an agent, the Gators might have to vacate the Sugar Bowl triumph because Pouncey would be found ineligible. Should its investigators conclude that Gators coaches and officials knew or should have known about the payment -- a critical issue in Southern California's recently imposed sanctions involving Reggie Bush -- the school could come under additional and stiffer penalties.
Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley said school officials have been looking into the matter since it came up last month and have yet to discover wrongdoing on their part.
"We were made aware of some information in early June that we reported to law enforcement, and we then shared with the NCAA and the [Southeastern Conference]," Foley said in a news release Monday. "At this time, we have no information that has indicated that there are any compliance issues for the University of Florida."
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees the certification of 225 sports agents among one million others under its purview holding active licenses to do business in the state, likely is the state authority investigating the matter as well.
Spokeswoman Alexis Lambert declined to confirm or deny that her department investigators are conducting a full probe, adding that such complaints against agents aren't made public until 10 days after investigators find "probable cause" in such cases. The department can revoke an agent's license in the event of impropriety of its agent rules and turn over the case to the state attorney if it believes a criminal violation occurred.
Lambert couldn't estimate the investigation's potential timetable, saying its length "depends on the nature of the complaint."
The complaint, first reported by ESPN.com as alleging that Pouncey accepted $100,000 sometime between the Gators' loss in the SEC championship game Dec. 5 and the Sugar Bowl Jan. 1, came in the form of an unsigned letter -- according to USA Today -- sent anonymously to the school.
"The NCAA is working cooperatively with the university," spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said. "However, it is NCAA policy to not comment on current, pending or potential investigations."
The governing body also is looking into South Carolina, where NCAA investigators last week interviewed tight end Weslye Saunders over potentially improper dealings with an agent. North Carolina's athletic director also admitted that investigators were on his campus last week regarding potential rules violations, later identified in media reports as involving agent relations with current Tar Heels football players.
Pouncey is represented by agent Joel Segal, who isn't necessarily implicated. Neither Gators officials nor Segal returned messages Monday, and Pouncey and the Steelers declined comment.
Chuck Finder: firstname.lastname@example.org .