Suspended NFL agent Gary Wichard dies

Gary Wichard, the longtime NFL player agent who was suspended last year for his role in a recruiting scandal at North Carolina, died Friday. He was 60.

He died at his home in Westlake Village, Calif., from diabetes and pancreatic cancer, the public relations firm Rogers & Cowan said.

An agent since 1980, Wichard’s NFL clients included Dwight Freeney, Jason Taylor, Antonio Cromartie, Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs and Darren Sproles.

”Gary was a family man first and foremost,” his wife, Maire, said in a statement. ”He also considered his clients to be like family as well.”

Wichard was suspended for nine months by the NFL Players Association in December for his involvement with former Tar Heels player Marvin Austin. Austin had been dismissed from the team in October. The players’ union said Wichard had ”impermissible communication” with Austin at a time when the player was not eligible for the NFL draft under the labor agreement.

Wichard also was investigated last year by the NCAA. The governing body looked into his longtime friendship with former Tar Heels assistant coach John Blake, who resigned in September.

Investigators have issued a search warrant for Wichard’s financial records, looking into whether North Carolina’s sports agent laws have been broken. Wichard spoke with investigators in October.

”We were looking in other avenues as well, so the investigation will remain open,” George Jeter, spokesman for N.C. Secretary of State’s office, said Friday.

Wichard was born in Brooklyn and opened his sports agency, Protect Management, more than 30 years ago.

In addition to his wife, Wichard is survived by daughters Dana and Jessica.

Services will be held Monday at Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village. The family suggested donations can be made to the American Diabetes Association and the Pancreatic Disease Network.