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In a statement released by the NCAA, the NCAA's associate director of enforcement Jackie Thurnes told Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs that the Tigers had no major violations and have ended their investigation in signing of Cam Newton.
Over 50 interviews were conducted in regards to Cam Newton over an alleged pay-for-play scenario, along with documents obtained by the NCAA including bank statements, IRS tax documents, phone records and e-mail messages.
It is noted in the letter that Auburn self-reported their dealings with Cecil Newton, Cam Newton's father, and "an owner of a scouting service (presumably Will Lyles) that they worked together to actively market Cam Newton for compensation. The report listed that Cam and the University of Auburn were not aware of the activity, this making Cam's time as a Tiger violation-free.
Also in the letter, Thurnes addressed the allegations of Raven Gray, Stanley McClover, Chaz Ramsey and Troy Reddick, who were all featured HBO's Real Sports "Dirty Money" episode. It was alleged that they all had received impermissible benefits while at Auburn. Due to a "lack of cooperation" by certain individuals involved, all allegations have not been substantiated.
A day after USA Today's Danny Sheridan went on Paul Finebaum's show to report the NCAA was tracking down a man believed to have given something like $200,000 to Cecil Newton for Cam Newton's services -- in the name of the Auburn Tigers, of course -- Sheridan has clarified a few things.
First, as he told the Sporting News' Matt Hayes, he never should have used a catchy term like "bag man" to describe the alleged and unnamed suspect. He also put the odds of the NCAA nabbing its prey at "50-50." However, Sheridan says he has high confidence in his source.
But remember all Sheridan reported was that the NCAA had a target in mind, not that it was about to nail the perp. While a report like that is so vague it's kind of hard to refute unless the NCAA itself denies it, it also means there's so much wiggle room that he could be one shade or another of technically right pretty much no matter what happens.
For more Auburn football, head to Track Em Tigers.
Gene Chizik wanted the Cam Newton investigation to go ahead and pick it up a notch -- he may have gotten his wish. According to USA Today's Danny Sheridan during an appearance on the Paul Finebaum show, the NCAA thinks something in the neighborhood of $200,000 went to Cecil Newton for the services of his son, with about 10 percent -- $20,000 to $30,000 -- of that going to Cecil's church, all "handled by a third party."
The NCAA suspects a specific person of having handled Auburn's money, not Mississippi State's money, and providing "bag man" services, but isn't yet able to pin anything on him, according to Sheridan. He also said the NCAA is looking at "about 15 other schools." If the investigation can't find anything, it will wrap up "in about six months." He forecasted sanctions and vacations if Auburn is found guilty of having used the third-party figure of delivering money for Newton.
Sheridan didn't say he has any evidence that Newton was paid for by Auburn. He stressed that his reporting only covers what the NCAA is looking for evidence of. Take it with a grain of salt, since it's on Finebaum's show, but that's another national columnist Auburn fans are going to have to add to their lengthy list of disreputable journalists.
Clay Travis' new website has also reported the NCAA's investigation took the governing body to Montgomery, Alabama at the end of June.
For more Auburn football, head to Track Em Tigers.
Hello, friends. When last we'd checked in on this story, Cam Newton was denying he'd talked to his father about the NCAA's investigation into that alleged Mississippi State solicitation. That was in December. It is now July. Did you know it's July right now? Either way, case closed. Done deal. Move on.
But wait! The New York Times' Pete Thamel (whose reporting pretty much started this whole thing, by the way) says NCAA vice president for enforcement Julie Roe Lach personally told Auburn Tigers coach Gene Chizik the following a month ago on the matter of Newton: "You’ll know when we’re finished. And we're not finished."
This won't come as a surprise to anybody who actually paid attention to the story. Newton being found eligible late in the season didn't absolve Auburn itself. The school could still be found innocent of any foul play, but the journey isn't over yet.
The NCAA is understandably busy, with UNC, Ohio State and Oregon just the biggest items on its plate right now. But the Newton story remains the biggest college football story of 2010, and digging back into it could produce something at least as big as Jim Tressel's exit. Hang on, folks.
For more Auburn football, head to Track Em Tigers.
We tried to do the Cam Newton-to-A.J. Green conversion math before, but apparently we had it backwards. Mistakenly thinking Newton’s punishment for his dad’s $180,000 solicitation should line up with Green’s four-week suspension for selling a jersey for $1,000, we concluded Newton should be suspended for 67 years. Only one of us went to Georgia Tech though, so you’ll excuse our math.
Turns out Green’s jersey was actually worth over $5 million. Newton was ruled out of commission for one day for $180,000, so that’s the going rate for one day. Right? And let’s say Green missed 28 days, or about four weeks. $180,000 times 28 = $5,040,000.
Damn, A.J. With that kind of signing bonus already in hand, who needs the NFL Draft? Granted the exchange rate flies off the meter when crossing the Georgia-Alabama border, but Auburn’s position right on the line puts them in an amazing twilight zone of suspension economics. Kind of hope Newton sells his SEC Championship Game jersey, just for science.
Just a few minutes ago, the NCAA publicly ruled Auburn Tigers QB Cam Newton eligible, meaning he’s free to play in the SEC Championship Game. Though the NCAA declares the investigation isn’t over, this does mean Auburn can finish its season with Newton at the helm and then let the chips fall where they may in the years to come.
According to previous statements made by the NCAA during this kerfuffle, a player for whom a representative solicits money from a university is not an eligible student-athlete. Any program knowingly playing an ineligible player is at risk of “multiple seasons” worth of penalties. According to the NCAA’s own findings, Newton was shopped. Auburn absolutely knew about it while playing him over the past few weeks, though not necessarily while recruiting him or before the news blew up. So … ?
The NCAA is acting with common sense here, and I’m just not sure how to react to that. Capricious behavior by the NCAA — not new. But capricious behavior that even temporarily benefits a player and his school, rather than dooming them? How often does that happen?
The NCAA released a statement today concerning Cam Newton's eligibility. He is eligible to play, has been eligible for the whole season, and will be available for the SEC Championship this weekend.
First, the verdict:
Auburn University football student-athlete Cam Newton is immediately eligible to compete, according to a decision today by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff. The NCAA concluded on Monday that a violation of amateurism rules occurred, therefore Auburn University declared the student-athlete ineligible yesterday for violations of NCAA amateurism rules.
When a school discovers an NCAA rules violation has occurred, it must declare the student-athlete ineligible and may request the student-athlete's eligibility be reinstated. Reinstatement decisions are made by the NCAA national office staff and can include conditions such as withholding from competition and repayment of extra benefits. Newton was reinstated without any conditions.
It is surprising that the news of him being ruled ineligible on Tuesday by Auburn wasn't leaked, especially given the history of this case. The NCAA quickly ruled on the school's request for him to be reinstated, most likely because of the important game this weekend.
Both parties, Auburn and the NCAA, agree that "the student-athlete’s father and an owner of a scouting service worked together to actively market the student-athlete as a part of a pay-for-play scenario in return for Newton’s commitment to attend college and play football."
Auburn has limited the access of Cecil Newton, Cam's father, and Mississippi has completely dissociated itself from him as well.
Most notably in the release, the NCAA says that "the student-athlete has not participated while ineligible." Sorry Georgia fans, but Auburn's win was legal as of now.
In determining how a violation impacts a student-athlete’s eligibility, we must consider the young person’s responsibility. Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement.
The release does not completely close the investigation though, and leaves loopholes if more information comes to light. But for now, this seems to have been taken care of.
One thought on this ruling: the NCAA is saying that because Cam didn't know, he has done no wrongdoing and is eligible. Does that mean in the future representatives (family, boosters, etc.) can shop players, just as long as they don't tell the athlete?
The Associated Press’ David Brandt reports Kenny Rogers, the former Mississippi St. Bulldogs player accused of being the middleman in the proposed $180,000 transaction between Cecil Newton and MSU for Cam Newton’s services, is scheduled to discuss the matter with the Mississippi secretary of state’s office. Rogers has previously spoken with the NCAA, as confirmed by his attorney in this report.
As an agent-like substance, Rogers is the office’s concern due to something called the Uniform Athlete Agent Act. Two years in jail await those who cross the UAAA, though the act’s initials should make it clear to you who’s really behind all this. The University of Alabama Athletic Association. It’s all so clear now. Even though they don’t actually call their athletic department that. Doesn’t matter. Sheeple.
After two whole weeks of very little news on the Newton front, any development feels like big stuff, but this specific episode may not ripple very far beyond Rogers, unless he discloses info that the office feels like passing along to other agencies. Doesn’t look good for him, though.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, Chris Low, and Pat Forde report Mississippi St. Bulldogs booster Bill Bell has told the NCAA he received text messages from Kenny Rogers defining a series of payments that would bring Cam Newton to MSU. He said Rogers’ plan involved $80,000 the day after Newton’s signing, plus two $50,000 payments.
Bell also said he played voice recordings for the NCAA of Rogers, and that Rogers was the one discussing money while Cecil Newton sat nearby condoningly, which is not a word. He also said he talked with Cecil Newton directly, and that Newton claimed it would take more than his son’s relationship with MSU coach Dan Mullen for the Dawgs to get him.
Each known participant from Mississippi St.‘s end now has told his story, and they all line up straight, giving us this narrative: Cecil Newton contacted coaches and a booster via and with Kenny Rogers, offering his son’s letter of intent in return for $180,000. Unless the NCAA somehow concludes everyone is lying or that Cecil Newton was not an official representative of his son (who left the choice between MSU and Auburn to his dad, according to Sports Illustrated), the Auburn Tigers are playing Newton on borrowed time, whether they did anything wrong during his recruitment or not, which is also in question as of today.
The Cam Newton saga has gained another new character! TMZ, who has earned one credibility point on this matter so far by reporting John Bond was meeting with the FBI (which turned out to be true), now reports that dog track owner Milton McGregor is being investigated by the FBI.
According to this and other reports, McGregor has previously given more than $1 million to Auburn towards the construction of Auburn Arena, the school’s future basketball stadium, and was arrested and indicted last month for trying to buy pro-gambling votes. His attorney filed motions to have all that thrown out.
What does this have to do with Cam Newton? While we have no word on what McGregor is specifically being investigated for, the FBI’s alleged interest would presumably be in whether McGregor supplied money for Auburn to Newton. Kenny Rogers has admitted that Cecil Newton’s strategy with the Mississippi St. Bulldogs was to work MSU booster Bill Bell, so if Newton did indeed try to get money from Auburn, a booster like McGregor might know some things.
As always, these things may all be untrue and/or change tomorrow.
Brandon Marcello at the Clarion-Ledger reports the FBI has met with John Bond, the former Mississippi St. Bulldogs player who played a major role in making the Cam Newton story public. We’ve known since last week that the FBI had been rumored to be interested in speaking with Bond, so this isn’t a surprise.
Meanwhile Ian Fitzsimmons, 103.3 FM radio host in Dallas, tweets that the NCAA met with Kenny Rogers today at 1 pm. It was on Fitzsimmons’ show last week that Rogers claimed Cecil Newton demanded “$100,000 to $180,000” for his son’s letter of intent.
Bond and Rogers were football teammates at Mississippi St. in the ‘80s. Both appear to have cooperated thus far, and neither has been shown to have misspoken that I’m aware of. The NCAA’s involvement could end up being terrible for Auburn while perhaps changing things slightly for other schools as well, but the FBI’s? Any theories on what college football would look like once the feds got done with it, if that’s in the picture?
After a slow weekend, the Cam Newton story is whirring back to life. Radio host Paul Finebaum reports the NCAA has interviewed Alabama Crimson Tide graduate assistant Jody Wright. Wright was the Mississippi St. Bulldogs coordinator of football operations last year during the time when Cecil Newton was accused of asking MSU for money, which Newton has partially admitted according to reports.
Finebaum also says an NCAA investigator is on his way to see the Auburn Tigers.
Wright, a former Tide football player, has been a hot message board rumor and conspiracy theory subject for a while, considering his affiliations with both the school that reported Newton to the SEC and with Auburn’s archrival. Though Finebaum’s Twitter has already taken one rumor and ran with it, so take this, as everything else, with whatever salt you have left.
If Wright has become involved, clearly he took the job at MSU just to coax an Auburn recruit’s family into a violation, right? That’s the silliest thing you’ve read all day, but I promise you there’s at least one person out there who believes it’s true.
According to Atlanta’s WSB-TV, Cecil Newton, father of Auburn Tigers QB Cam Newton, has admitted talking about money with a former Mississippi St. Bulldogs player. Specifically, money in exchange for Newton’s letter-of-intent. He doesn’t appear to have named the player, but we pretty much already know that.
The report also says Newton claims Mississippi St. never offered or gave money, which would be backed up by their willingness in Jan. to report to the SEC on the matter. He also reportedly said neither Cam Newton nor Auburn was aware of his dealings with Mississippi St. Kenny Rogers has said he never even met the younger Newton until after the elder had already solicited the offer, so this is feasible. And nobody’s accused Auburn of breaking any rules during Newton’s recruitment.
The critical element that’s missing: Cecil Newton, in this report, doesn’t mention extending the offer to Mississippi St. coaches, but only to a person we’ll infer is Rogers, who has no official role within the university and thus doesn’t really count, if he’s the only person Newton talked to. Rogers claims Newton did specifically solicit money from Bulldogs coaches and was bluntly denied. But with every other detail of the stories provided by Rogers, John Bond, and Bill Bell now lining up, it’s hard to think that’s the part that didn’t happen.
If Cecil Newton is actually fessing up now, and has done so or will do so to the NCAA in greater detail, then Cam Newton is all but officially a walking NCAA violation. As Yahoo! Sports and the New York Times both clarified yesterday, a player who solicits money or has money solicited on behalf of himself is ineligible. Knowingly playing an ineligible athlete is a violation. The NCAA hasn’t declared him ineligible yet, but it has warned Auburn about the risks of playing him. If this report is accurate, then Cecil Newton is trying to fall on his own grenade here, but it’s too late.
Playing him tomorrow against the Georgia Bulldogs would be a bolder move than anything even Les Miles could dream up.
Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson tweets that the NCAA has contacted the Auburn Tigers about QB Cam Newton’s eligibility issues, warning the school that playing Newton is a potential risk. Of course this happened less than an hour after multiple sources reported Newton would be playing tomorrow.
The ball is on Auburn’s side of the 50, to paraphrase the hoops or possibly foursquare metaphor. They can decide they’ve already cast their lot with Newton, hope the NCAA doesn’t find the all-but-certainty that Cecil Newton requested money from the Mississippi St. Bulldogs to be an event that renders Newton ineligible, and keep playing for the SEC Championship Game and beyond. To do so would potentially risk multiple seasons worth of penalties. Shudder when you hear the NCAA using those words, whether you’re a Plainseagles fan or not.
Or Auburn can elect to hold Newton out tomorrow against the Georgia Bulldogs and play it day-by-day until their game two weeks later against the Alabama Crimson Tide. They’d still have a shot at beating the Dawgs, depending on their emotional state minus Newton, so losing him for one game wouldn’t necessarily crush their title run. Losing him for the rest of the year certainly would. But considering Mark Richt claims Georgia has spent no time preparing for anyone but Newton (don’t entirely believe that, but it’s probably not far off), the No. 2 Auburn Tigers could still pull off a home upset over the 5-5 Georgia Bulldogs. What a clause, and what a sport.
If Auburn wasn’t aware of Mississippi State’s report to the SEC and didn’t offer or give the Newton family any money during or after Newton’s recruitment, and there have been zero credible claims so far that they did, they are getting absolutely screwed by a long chain of parties that ends with either the NCAA or Cecil Newton, depending on how you look at it.
According to ESPN.com, Bill Bell, the Mississippi St. Bulldogs booster named by Kenny Rogers, agrees that Cecil Newton, Auburn Tigers QB Cam Newton’s father, asked for money in exchange for Newton’s letter of intent. Bell also acknowledged speaking with an NCAA investigator earlier this week.
Every piece of the story so far has lined up, with one glaring exception: nobody has made a serious allegation that the Auburn Tigers offered or gave money to or for Newton. However, that doesn’t really matter. As the NCAA told the New York Times yesterday, “The solicitation of cash or benefits by either a potential student-athlete or another person on their behalf is not allowed under NCAA rules” and that “knowingly playing an ineligible student-athlete could make a university ‘subject to harsher penalties down the road.’”
Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson writes that the NCAA may officially recommend Auburn avoid playing Newton in case he’s ruled ineligible. Once Auburn knew about Newton’s Mississippi St. dealings, they could not continue to play him. When MSU reported Cecil Newton to the SEC in January, did the conference or NCAA notify other schools? I don’t know, so please share if you do.
But the fact is that now Auburn knows about his recruitment. Unless Auburn believes Kenny Rogers, John Bond, Bell, and MSU’s compliance department are all incorrect, playing Newton has become a significant risk -- especially with the NCAA laying out the possibility of "harsher penalties down the road." Now we're talking about multiple seasons worth of damage. Two undefeated Auburn seasons, 1957 and 1993, have ended without bowls due to sanctions. This isn't a program that needs to go through that again.
They’re not beating the Alabama Crimson Tide or SEC East champion without him, and probably not the Georgia Bulldogs either. Auburn may choose to let it ride, and if the NCAA forces Newton off the field the Tigers will have something to feel aggrieved about for decades. If they didn’t do anything wrong during Newton’s recruitment, can’t say I’d blame them for taking that stance.
The line for this Saturday’s Georgia Bulldogs-Auburn Tigers game was already taken down by most of the biggest Vegas sportsbooks due to Cam Newton uncertainty. Now Newton’s being removed from Heisman Trophy odds lists too.
Other Heisman contenders include Oregon Ducks RB LeMichael James, Boise St. Broncos QB Kellen Moore, Michigan Wolverines QB Denard Robinson, and TCU Horned Frogs QB Andy Dalton. All had been left in Newton’s wake, but goodness knows what’s on the table right now. Soooo many mixed metaphors.
This doesn’t necessarily mean power bettors are in the know, rather that Vegas is just as uncertain as the rest of us. Of course, with the most recent allegation from Kenny Rogers, the ball might now be in the Mississippi St. Bulldogs’ court.
Kenny Rogers has officially aired out Cam Newton’s father Cecil Newton, claiming the elder Newton said it would take “anywhere from $100,000 to $180,000” for the quarterback’s letter of intent. The comments came out when Dallas' KESN-FM host Ian Fitzsimmons today interviewed Rogers, previously identified by ESPN as the man who presented pretty much that offer to the Mississippi St. Bulldogs last year — listen to audio here, via Sports By Brooks:
According to ESPN.com, Cecil Newton and Rogers attended the 2009 Egg Bowl together, with Newton wondering whether a big booster named Bill Bell would come through with the money. Rogers says he didn’t know if Cam Newton knew anything about the dealings, and that he didn’t meet the player until Nov. 27, just a few weeks before Mississippi St. reported on the matter to the SEC. Rogers also says that when Cam Newton was leaving the Florida Gators, Cecil Newton declared “It’s not gonna be free this time.” It being Newton’s letter of intent, of course.
It’s interesting that in Rogers’ supposed offer to Mississippi St., he claimed that other schools were waving around 200 stacks, but that Newton could be had for $180,000. If Rogers isn’t inventing this, at least we can say this: he was not interested in settling for anything less than what his client asked for. He also clearly knows when to fold 'em. The FBI getting involved would be the common man's when-to-fold-'em point, so close enough.
This still doesn’t mean the Auburn Tigers paid for Newton’s signature. But putting all the pieces together, can you come up with any other explanation as to how Auburn landed Newton?
Mississippi State University acknowledges that it contacted the Southeastern Conference office in January of 2010 regarding an issue relating to its recruitment of Cam Newton.
Shortly after the initial call, the SEC office requested specific information to include interviews with involved staff from MSU.
Due to MSU dealing with ongoing and time-consuming eligibility issues involving non-football matters in the winter and spring of 2010, the specific SEC request went unfulfilled. Some additional information was provided to the SEC during July of 2010. Once the NCAA enforcement staff became involved, Mississippi State University cooperated fully with its investigation. MSU is confident the SEC office has managed this process consistent with its established procedures and the university is committed to the conference’s ongoing efforts to ensure compliance with SEC and NCAA rules.
So what’s the SEC so super busy with from January until July? March Madness? That’s in March. This statement corroborates with John Bond’s story, and further squashes the idea that Urban Meyer had anything to do with it, unless if his momentary January hiatus actually was just a secret overnight trip to Starkville after he threw the SEC Championship Game so he’d have a chance to screw Auburn! Maybe so! Follow the money!
One thing we can presume here: Mississippi St. almost certainly never offered Newton money. This is also one of the first, if not the first, and I’m not sure which, official mention I’ve seen of the NCAA having been involved.
Cam Newton hysteria reached a new level over lunch time, thanks to a blogger and a radio host. No, Newton has not been suspended, nor has anybody with any worthwhile information officially reported that he is about to be suspended. Unless it’s happened since I started typing this.
Paul Finebaum, Alabama Crimson Tide-friendly radio personality, posted the same thing, though thanks to Twitter's timestamping I can't tell who posted it first. Presumably, Finebaum. Thus, trap went ham, as you can imagine. And then, after the rumor was bluntly refuted, War Blogle posted this kind of thing for the next hour:
The implication there, I guess, is that ESPN, the New York Times, and every other media organization that has been covering the Newton story is doing so with no credible information. Which, OK. There have been some rumor-y flyers thrown in there, but grow up. Meanwhile, a quote from Auburn head coach Gene Chizik:
According to a report by ESPN’s Joe Schad, two Mississippi St. Bulldogs recruiters were told by Cam Newton’s father Cecil Newton that it would take “more than a scholarship” to get the quarterback to Starkville. Schad also reports the school relayed that information along to the SEC, and that Cam Newton called Mississippi St. to express regret about his father choosing Auburn because “the money was too much.”
This would put us back at square one, since Cecil Newton was rumored to be pulling off this exact stunt well before any news broke via major media. If this is true, let’s walk through this. Again, if this is true. How dumb would you have to be to sell your son’s football career to the Auburn Tigers and then let Sports Illustrated publish a cover story in which you’re quoted as deciding on Auburn over Mississippi St.?
Even the most tinfoil-free sports fan’s BS detector whirred to life when reading that part of the story, and this was days before any allegations went public. That quote from Schad’s article about the money being too much is the very first information that’s been released that specifically fingers Auburn.
Or these Mississippi St. sources could be making everything up. Let's leave that door open just for fun.
Either way, this is it. If Newton's eligibility winds up revoked in time for the BCS Championship Game, not to mention SEC title game or Iron Bowl or HEY how about by this Friday afternoon, we won't have any reason to be surprised.
Among the worst news for Auburn Tigers QB Cam Newton is that he’s now under the microscope of the only investigative force on earth capable of dwarfing the NCAA and the FBI: SEC message boards. Newton’s record of traffic violations is publicly accessible on an Alachua County web database (the University of Florida is located in Alachua), and fans of rival schools have been going to town.
Among the 12 items incurred within 18 months — not including the case of the stolen laptop — are multiple driver’s license infractions, with the whole shebang concluded by a UNKNOWINGLY OPERATING VEHICLE WHILE DL SUSPENDED – CANCELED – REVOKED.
We all have a few whoopsies in our past, and nobody wants football 4chan digging around in his or her records. But having a list like that from a single year-and-a-half period is another dent in Newton’s public perception, even if it is an impressive hot streak.
TMZ Sports (wow!) reports the FBI has requested a meeting with John Bond, the former Mississippi St. Bulldogs quarterback whose whistle-blowing kicked off the whole Cam Newton recruitment investigation world tour. According to TMZ, the FBI says, “We are interested in whether young men are being shopped to colleges,” which, if that’s what the FBI actually says, our great nation is in a little bit of trouble.
The southeastern sports fan should’ve long assumed that the federal government doesn’t really care about college sports. Because if they did, they would’ve cleaned it up a long time ago. But apparently they do care and just hadn’t caught wind of this kind of thing before. Did the executive branch really need to be headed by an anti-BCS blockbuster before they got around to noticing what really goes on in college football?
Just wait til they watch tonight's 30 for 30 on Marcus Dupree.
What’s this mean for Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers? Nothing at the moment, but it can’t possibly be a good long-term development. He’ll play against the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday. No word on whether Auburn message boards have decided if this is just irresponsible journalism on the part of the United States government.
After two separate plotlines in the great Cam Newton investigation pointed somewhere in the direction of Urban Meyer, Corch has denied having any role in any of this. First, he was rumored to have encouraged the original outing of Kenny Rogers, which John Bond refuted. Some have also wondered what kind of role the Florida Gators athletic program played in today’s sudden and odd release of news that Newton cheated in classes at the University of Florida. Meyer told the Gainesville Sun:
I don’t know anything about anything. I heard they’ve got me meeting with the agent and all that. I never met with anybody. It’s ridiculous … Our entire focus right now is on preparing for our biggest game of the year against South Carolina. For anyone to think that I or anyone on our staff may have leaked information about private student records to the media doesn’t know us very well. It’s a ridiculous claim and simply not true.
As Team Speed Kills, our SEC community, points out, smearing a former player would be a drastic recruiting blunder. Which would be incredibly contrary to his record. Even when Meyer screws up — such as when he just about spoke paternally of a player while lashing out at a reporter — it’s good for recruiting.
Ruining Newton’s name would be shortsighted. Even if Meyer could somehow spur the NCAA into moving quickly enough to bar Newton from the SEC Championship Game, it wouldn’t be worth it, as sooner or later somebody would find out what he’d done or had someone in the athletic department do. Unless if he’s planning to retire at the end of the year anyway. Hey now…
Auburn Tigers QB Cam Newton, already under investigation by the NCAA for shady circumstances surrounding his recruitment to Auburn and Mississippi St., is finding out what A.J. Green already knew: the NCAA will turn over every rock in its way, with every worm underneath every rock displayed in one of those glass case, uh, worm displays like you made in third grade. The latest upturning: Newton was formally accused of cheating in class three times while a member of the Florida Gators.
Horrors! Hands waving in the air! Furrrrious typing! Right. College athletes who don’t take academics seriously: not a new thing. If the NCAA wanted to, they could bust just about any player at any time for any number of things. We get that. But the thing with Newton is that the NCAA really does want to.
Remember when A.J. Green was being investigated for his role in a South Beach party? Green wasn’t there. Everybody knew it. Didn’t matter. While researching the party, the NCAA turned up entirely unrelated evidence that Green had sold a game-worn jersey to an agent-like individual. That’s the pit-of-my-stomach thing about the NCAA. An investigation into Matter A uncovers Matters B, C, D, and so on, matters we’d never even heard of.
This finding doesn’t affect Newton’s playing status in any way, but it’s certainly impetus for the NCAA to keep digging, not to mention pretty bad PR for the Heisman contender. One question, as Blutarsky notes, is how could this get out so quickly without the Florida Gators' very willing assistance?
Last night, Auburn Tigers athletics director Jay Jacobs commented on QB Cam Newton, saying Auburn “looks for Cam to continue playing for us.” Newton’s recruitment to Auburn and Mississippi St. is being investigated by the NCAA, but nothing has come out that would prohibit him from playing this Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs. Newton responded with a defense that could be used wonderfully in just about any circumstance: “When God be blessin’, the devil be messin’.”
Newton is the far-and-away Heisman Trophy favorite after leading Auburn to an undefeated SEC title run and No. 2 BCS ranking. Without him, the Tigers would likely be underdogs in two of their next three games — and their involvement in that third depends in part on beating Georgia.
Auburn must beat either Georgia or the Alabama Crimson Tide to earn a spot in the SEC Championship Game, though a loss to the unranked Dawgs would raise serious questions about whether a one-loss Auburn should be invited to the BCS title game over an undefeated TCU Horned Frogs team. In other words, they’d really like to have Cam Newton on Saturday.
John Bond, the former Mississippi St. player who set off the whole Cam Newton NCAA investigation college football media wildfire by talking to ESPN and the New York Times, has straight up denied the claim that Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer encouraged him to go public with Kenny Rogers’ wrongdoing.
Meyer’s involvement had been rumored since the story broke, and pay site Auburn Undercover published a story purporting to connect all the dots between Bond, Meyer, and Mississippi St. coach Dan Mullen, a former Meyer assistant:
Bond was on a three-way telephone call with Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and Meyer to discuss the situation. Both Mullen and Bond said that they believed the matter was closed. They had done what they were supposed to do, passed it on to the league office, and nothing else needed to be said.
But Meyer strongly disagreed, saying it needed to be public and that he was going to call The New York Times. Meyer and Pete Thamel, the reporter who wrote the story for The New York Times, are close friends.
Meyer, Bond has said privately, “is behind the whole thing.”
Earlier tonight Bond went on Atlanta’s Buck and Kincade Show, where he was asked about the Meyer connection:
No, I did it myself. When I got a phone call from the guy, I went straight to our athletic director. Now, what happened to it and how it grew legs after that? I don’t know. I know we handled it right on our end and that was my first concern.
Thus the most intriguing tale of SEC espionage since whatever Houston Nutt cooked up yesterday morning comes to a wimp of a close. There’s still plenty about Newton, Newton’s father, and Rogers that needs to be concluded upon, but unless Bond’s being paid to protect Meyer (A NEW RIDICULOUS CONSPIRACY APPEARS!) this particular branch of the storyline has given forth all the fruit it has, and disappointing fruit at that, from a drama standpoint at least, which is how all fruit is graded.
According to a source cited by the Associated Press, Auburn and former-Mississippi-State-player-turned-shady-individual Kenny Rogers had zero contact during the Tigers’ recruitment of QB Cam Newton. Sure, it’s an anonymous source. But if true, this changes everything. Back to the way it was about 24 hours ago.
If Rogers and Auburn haven’t interacted in any way, then Rogers is just a huckster trying to scam Mississippi St., rather than a middleman or pimp, as he’s been described. Auburn would be free to confidently proceed as scheduled — the fact that Auburn has repeatedly insisted Newton remains eligible shows they really weren’t all that worried anyway, and now we may know why.
Then agaaaain, Rogers and Mississippi St. itself never had direct contact either. This whole situation came to light when former Missy State quarterback John Bond reported Rogers to the New York Times and ESPN. So this does still leave a potential network of Auburn middlemen pimps at play, which is a string of words that would likely cause someone to say, “That would be a great name for a band!” if this were the mid-’90s and people still made that joke all the time.
Newton will play tomorrow against Chattanooga. That’s about all we really know, but this report is a clear step towards Newton being more likely to play against the Georgia Bulldogs and beyond.
First, you should keep up with this stream on the Cam Newton investigation at .com. It’ll be your best bet for updates as we move forward. Second, read this post at The Big Lead and/or this post at Dr. Saturday for the general overview of everything we know. Then, for flavor and color, enjoy this post at EDSBS and Team Speed Kills’ three scenarios.
For some perspective from fans of the teams most directly involved: Track Em Tigers, our Auburn Tigers community, reacts to the news, wonders about the impact on Newton’s Heisman run, doesn’t know what we’re yelling about, and wants to fire the New York Times or something. That last sentiment has informed the most popular reaction among War Eaglemen on Twitter. For Whom The Cowbell Tolls, our Mississippi St. Bulldogs community, knew it all along and pieces together a picture of the Newton family.
SB Nation editors reevaluate Newton's Heisman chances, find a teachable moment regarding the legendary SEC practice of using churches to funnel money to recruits, and discover the dumbest thing anybody has yet written about Newton.
Elsewhere around the SEC: Dawg Sports (Georgia Bulldogs) is crossing its fingers in hopes Newton will end up missing next week’s game between Auburn and Georgia. Rocky Top Talk (Tennessee Volunteers) assures itself this has nothing to do with the troubled Vols. Garnet And Black Attack (South Carolina Gamecocks) raises an eyebrow at the sheer dollar amount.
Conquest Chronicles (USC Trojans) sees pro-SEC bias all over the place here, since the Trojans football program was recently torn to bits for cheating. Wait, what? KEEP MOVING. Addicted To Quack (Oregon Ducks) meditates on how a story like this works in the Google age.
Finally, from the unstoppable @lsufreek:
Montgomery, Alabama's WSFA shares a statement from the Auburn Tigers regarding QB Cam Newton's eligibility in the wake of an NCAA investigation into his recruitment: "Auburn is aware of the allegation but cannot comment other than to say Newton IS eligible to play for the Tigers." Doesn't really add anything, but it's something.
Still in question: even though Newton is eligible to play, will he play? There's a difference there. All Auburn has said is that he can play if they decide they're cool with it. Should he play? And so forth. The only meaning that can be drawn from that statement is that the NCAA hasn't suspended Newton yet. Which, duh.
Unless Auburn is very, very highly confident they're in the clear here, it would be wise to sit Newton on Saturday. It really shouldn't ding his Heisman chances, if anybody's concerned about that, since it's not like he'd be playing all game against Chattanooga anyway.
Our real interest here is next week, not this week. CBS has chosen to air the Georgia Bulldogs vs. Auburn Tigers game instead of the South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Florida Gators game that will decide who wins the SEC East.
With star player Cam Newton under NCAA investigation for money that may have been on the table during his recruitment, the Auburn Tigers have two choices, both of them bleak. They could suspend Newton preemptively to avoid having to vacate wins down the line, which would mean throwing away a potential SEC title and an inside track to the BCS Championship Game. Because they’re not winning any of that without Newton.
Their other option is to go ahead and play Newton anyway and hope this all just fades away without any penalties. If they’re eventually forced to vacate a national title, wouldn’t that be better than leaving an undefeated season on the table?
Fans of the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide would certainly vote for the former, and if there’s any consistent metric on what powers the minds of Auburn, Alabama, it’s doing exactly what Bama does not want to happen.
Let’s do the NCAA math here regarding the reported investigation into Cam Newton’s recruitment at Auburn and Mississippi St. Remember the precedent we’re working from: Georgia Bulldogs WR A.J. Green was suspended four games for improperly selling a jersey for $1,000. That’s $250 per game. Off we go.
Newton’s fence was allegedly seeking $200,000 or more for the quarterback’s services. $200,000 divided by $250 gives us 800 games. Since the college football regular season is twelve games long, a fairly suspended Newton would be eligible to play for the Tigers again in late 2076, when Newton would be 88 years old and, honestly, probably Auburn’s most mobile quarterback.
The College Park native would thus promptly take his talents to Buffalo, New York instead of hanging around east Alabama, just to get it over with.
But this is the NCAA we’re talking about, and fair is never fair or rational or anything worth bringing up. This may all blow over in time for Saturday’s game against Chattanooga (this is why you schedule Chattanooga, y’all), but Georgia Bulldogs fans have every reason to keep an ear peeled in advance of the Dawgs Nov. 13 date in Auburn.
Let’s say the reports that the NCAA is investigating Auburn Tigers QB Cam Newton’s recruitment are accurate. Let’s say Newton winds up missing games this season, as fellow stars like Georgia Bulldogs WR A.J. Green and North Carolina Tar Heels Marvin Austin, Robert Quinn, and Greg Little have. How does this affect Auburn’s SEC West chances?
First, you’ll note this totally dismisses Auburn’s national title chances. Anyway. If the Tigers were forced to play without Newton, there’s no reason to think they’d have a shot at winning the SEC. It’s hard to describe a football team as a one-player team, but Auburn is as close as it gets.
Newton has accounted for 41 percent of his team’s rushing yards and 93 percent of their passing yards. He’s even caught one of Auburn’s 16 touchdown receptions. He’s fourth in the nation in rushing yards and yards per pass attempt, and he’s done it against one of the country’s toughest schedules.
Auburn’s defense ranks in the bottom of the SEC. The only teams worse in both scoring and total defense are the Mississippi Rebels, Tennessee Volunteers, and Vanderbilt Commodores, who combine for one SEC win against teams besides each other.
This team’s only chance at winning has been to outgun opponents, and its only chance at doing that has been to let Newton do his thing. Without Newton around, the winner of this weekend’s game between the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide would have to become the clear favorite to win the conference.
ESPN's Chris Low and others report the Mississippi St. Bulldogs individual in question in the NCAA's investigation of Auburn Tigers QB Cam Newton is former player Kenny Rogers, according to ESPN's sources. Former Missy State QB John Bond had previously identified the individual as being a teammate, which Rogers was.
Rogers played for the Bulldogs in the early '80s and currently identifies himself online as an agent. His company also claims to match "high school athletes with college programs," which, you know, sort of sounds like exactly what we're talking about here.
Newton is being investigated for money that may have been requested in his name in exchange for his letter-of-intent when he was seeking to transfer from a junior college to either Auburn or Mississippi St. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 2 in the nation, and Newton is the far-and-away Heisman favorite.
Newton's father, Cecil Newton, has already denied any involvement and claimed ignorance of anything done by Rogers. Cecil Newton also says the NCAA has been investigating the family's finances for a month now. If the Rogers report is accurate, the NCAA's next move would be to find if the same deal was offered to and accepted by Auburn. If so, Newton
Join Track Em Tigers for more Newton and Auburn.
Former Yahoo! Sports writer Bryan Fischer and Pete Thamel, the New York Times' college sports reporter, both hit Twitter moments apart with reports that Auburn Tigers QB Cam Newton is a target of NCAA investigation. The Heisman front-runner transferred from Florida after finding he'd be stuck behind Tim Tebow on the Gators depth chart for a year longer than expected. The College Park native's re-recruitment came down to Auburn and the Mississippi St. Tigers, with his father having the final say and choosing Auburn.
That last part about his father relates to a longtime college football message boards rumor -- according to legend, Newton's dad acted as his agent. Again, rumor. Could be the rumor that kicked off this investigation to begin with. No announcements have been made so far regarding Newton's upcoming eligibility, but Georgia Bulldogs fans should be very, very interested to learn what happens next. The Dawgs travel to Auburn in nine days.
From two different reporters at pretty much the same time:
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