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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cam Newton cleared, but questions still abound

In a bit of a surprise, the NCAA has announced a finding in the Cam Newton case: the Auburn quarterback is eligible to play, though some evidence of a pay-for-play scheme was found.

According to a release from the NCAA, it 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.”

Newton was immediately reinstated by the NCAA without any conditions. Then the NCAA release adds:

“According to facts of the case agreed upon by Auburn University and the NCAA enforcement staff, 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. NCAA rules (Bylaw 12.3.3) do not allow individuals or entities to represent a prospective student-athlete for compensation to a school for an athletic scholarship.”

Therefore, Cecil Newton’s access to the Auburn program was “limited” according to the NCAA, while Mississippi State disassociated itself from the “involved individual,” presumed to be Kenny Rogers.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive said in the release that the “conduct of Cam Newton’s father and the involved individual is unacceptable.”

But the NCAA also determined that neither Cam Newton nor Auburn was “aware of this activity.” So presumably, the player and Auburn are in the clear, at least as far as being able to play Newton the rest of the season.

A few immediate reactions:

- By saying that Cam Newton’s father did something wrong, but his son is eligible, this seems to create a giant loophole in recruiting: A family member or coach can solicit payment, but as long as the recruit doesn’t know anything about it (assuming they don’t know anything about it) it doesn’t affect the recruit.

As a few other’s have stated, this opens a Pandora’s Box.

- Is the NCAA investigation actually over, and is Auburn in the clear? That's not quite set out.

- If Auburn ruled Newton ineligible on Monday because a violation had occurred, then the NCAA ruled him eligible, does that means everything’s OK going forward, but the previous wins could be vacated? I’m guessing no, but just to be sure I’ve sent a request for clarification to the SEC.

UPDATE: Charles Bloom of the SEC referred me to the final line in a quote by the NCAA vice president Kevin Lennon. Here's Lennon's quote:

"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. From a student-athlete reinstatement perspective, Auburn University met its obligation under NCAA bylaw 14.11.1. Under this threshold, the student-athlete has not participated while ineligible."

So basically, until it's proven Newton "was aware" of the pay-for-play scheme, Auburn is in no danger of having wins vacated.

- At least this is some finality for Heisman voters who were desperate for it. I’m one, and as of Wednesday morning I was leaning towards abstaining. Now I’ll give it some thought. But I’ve still got misgivings: The NCAA has now found that Newton's father engaged in a pay-for-play scheme. Does his son not knowing about it pass the smell test? If not, is that still grounds enough for withholding a Heisman vote?

A lot of things to ponder over the weekend.


Mike said...

How can you still be unsure about voting for him?

Certainly what Cecil Newton did was completely slimy and disgraceful. And like most college football fans, I am suspicious of whether Cam really knew about this.

BUT, he's been cleared by the NCAA now. What more can you ask for? Sure, the NCAA is incompetent and inconsistent, but they have the authority in this situation. They say he's eligible, so why hold suspicions against him? His play on the field has been unmatched this season.

It's not a legal issue, but I still believe in innocent until proven guilty.

Anonymous said...

If the Cam case is not over, what's the point in having a partial ruling? Cam didn't know about what his dad was doing?..bullcrap

This is absolutely absurd. His dad's church got bailed out through money that filtered through his uncle up north. MSU certaintly didn't give him that money.

Maybe we just need to wait until the FBI is done with their investigation. Ridiculous.

Any Heisman voter must also turn a blind eye to his past at UF.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line... The cost of doing business for a top flight Football program just went up. NCAA just allowed the local car dealer to give daddy 100k to send junior to State U as long as junior doesn't know about it.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Cameron knew nothing of it. He has proven to be an honest person of the highest character. It shows in the way he conducts himself. What a poor victim.

Anonymous said...

So basically we should get a large group of UGA fans (what are there 40-50k or so season ticket holders?) to each give AJ Green's "PARENTS" $100 and keep him at UGA for another season? I for one would pay it...

Just don't tell AJ!

Anonymous said...

Too bad AJ Green's Dad didn't sell his jersey.

Anonymous said...

If you do not vote for Cam Newton for Heismann, then turn in your credentials and go work at McDonalds.

If you subsequently tell us you did not vote, I will not browse your work ever again.

Anonymous said...

I for one am tired of the Cam is the victim crap. How stupid can you be to see your family come into money and not be aware of it. The NCAA has become a joke. That kid from Okie State getting suspended for 6 games for talking to Neon and lying to the NCAA. No $$$ was exchanged. And AJ's 4 games is ludicrous compared to the kid from Alabama. I see an anti-trust lawsuit coming soon. There is too much money in the big two sports which will eventually kill Title IX, non-revenue sports and the many athletic departments that run in the red and not the black. Can you say Club Teams.

Anonymous said...

When the hammer falls...the NCAA, Mike Slive and Auburn are going to look like complete bozos. I will laugh as Auburn burns!

todd said...

I know this will tick a lot of people off. But I'm all for UGA leaving the SEC. It's just too hard to compete with teams that are allowed to cheat all they want while others are punished. First Tennessee and now Auburn. I don't know why the NCAA is doing what they are doing. the NCAA and SEC rot in Hell for all I care.