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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cam Newton: 'I didn’t do anything wrong'

(An updated version of the Cam Newton story that appears in today's newspaper.)

AUBURN, Ala. — As he boarded Auburn’s team bus to Montgomery, quarterback Cam Newton made his first declarative statements since allegations about his recruitment went public Thursday.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Newton said. “I’m blessed to be at Auburn right now. I’m sure the smoke will settle. I’m looking forward to the game tomorrow.”

Newton has been at the center of a controversy since ESPN.com published a report Thursday saying former Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers, who claimed to represent the Newton family’s interests, requested a six-figure payment for the quarterback to sign with the Bulldogs last year.

A person familiar with the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that Auburn had “no contact whatsoever” with Rogers. The school has not received an NCAA letter of inquiry regarding the matter.

Rogers, who responded for the first time on ESPN Radio 103.3 FM in Dallas Friday night, said he’s never asked for money for a recruit and emphasized that he’s never had contact with Auburn.

“No. No. No,” he said. “None at all. None at all.”

In ESPN.com’s original report, former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond said he was approached by an ex-teammate from the early 1980s — identified by the website through unnamed sources as Rogers — claiming to be from Newton’s camp. He sought $180,000 to secure the quarterback’s services.

Bond, who lives in Madison, Miss., and is the director of business for Eutaw Construction, said he took the information directly to then-Mississippi State athletic director Greg Byrne, who relayed it to the SEC offices.

Rogers works for a company called Elite Football Preparation, which finds colleges for football prospects. He said he spoke with Newton’s father, Cecil, during the quarterback’s official visit to Starkville for last year’s Mississippi State-Ole Miss game on Nov. 28.

Rogers said the two spoke casually about the culture of a small town like Starkville. He said he didn’t meet Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen in person until Cecil Newton introduced the two.

“I have no idea where my name came up in this,” Rogers said, adding he hasn't spoken to Bond in more than 20 years.

Rogers isn’t only being scrutinized by the NCAA. According to the AP, the NFL Players Association filed a disciplinary complaint against Chicago-based agent Ian Greengross on Friday. The NFLPA has identified Rogers as a “recruiter” for Greengross and is looking into his involvement with players.

Newton signed with Auburn on Dec. 31 last year out of Blinn (Texas) Community College and is a prime Heisman Trophy candidate after leading the Tigers to a 9-0 record and No. 2 spot in the Bowl Championship Series rankings.

Cecil Newton denied his family ever asked for or received money and has cooperated with the NCAA investigation by turning over financial statements. He called the allegations “unfounded” and questioned the timing of the report.

All of this hasn’t affected Cam, who was asked what the last 24 hours have been like.

“It’s been all right,” he said. “I’ve had worse days. God has continuously blessed me throughout this process — me and my family, and most importantly this team.”

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said emphatically Thursday that the quarterback’s eligibility is not in question today against Chattanooga, a Football Championship Subdivision team.

“Here’s what I can say loud and clear: Cameron Newton is eligible at Auburn University. Period. End of story,” he said during his weekly call-in radio show.

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs, speaking during his regular Friday appearance on the Auburn-Opelika This Morning radio show, said the school has known about the issue for some time.

Multiple reports, citing anonymous sources, say the school’s compliance department was informed of the situation this summer. After an investigation, it found no reason to hold Newton out of games.

“What went on (Thursday), what came out, was no surprise to us,” Jacobs said. “We have known about that for quite some time.

“One thing I do want to say is just like we have always done, we will continue to protect Auburn. We will do what is in the best interests of Auburn.

“We are not going to get into the gray area with any rules. We are going to have coaches and staff who are people of character and integrity.”


ron mexico said...

Who is the guy that cut the interview off and what is his job? I see that guy everywhere

Andy Bitter said...

That would be Dr. Tim Jackson, executive associate AD.

ron mexico said...

Thanks, I always wanted to know what his job was he seems to be all over the place.

Did ya'll request to talk to Cam or were ya'll given a heads up by the SID that he was going to give a commment?

Andy Bitter said...

Funny you ask. Players are off limits after Tuesdays with no exceptions. No newspaper reporters were there. Just the three Internet sites that regularly cover the team. No heads up was given.

Nancy said...

Theoreticlly it seems the players are not available for interviews after Tuesday but I expect the AU admin was willing to allow CN to make a brief denial...which would be a reasonable compromise. He does not need to be badgered by the press but good to let him get his say.

Andy Bitter said...

It was never the Auburn sports information department's intent to make him available today. That's all I'll say.

Nancy said...

Looks like they just "failed to prevent" him from answereing a couple questions....then moved him along. I'm glad for Cam that you got the comment.

ron mexico said...

Very interesting there. I've always found it odd how chizik addresses Phillip Marshall and Mark Murphy at press conferences when they ask questions. I'm guessing the internet sites don't always cover the team loading the bus. Seems like somebody wants to get their message out a certain way.

Andy Bitter said...

Very observant.

Nancy said...

Thanks for the coverage...I did an internet search and the web is full of negative blog stuff and irresponsible commentary about Cam. The question is: how does Cam get his reputation back when all of this ends.

Anonymous said...

Are you aware of what's happening here: http://www.auburneagle.com/WEAForum/index.php?topic=22548.0?

Justin said...

Yeah, Cam does walk directly over to them without being called. And the guy, Dr. Jackson, sees them and is looking at them the whole time, he just kind of goes over and stands by the bus for a few seconds while it happens.

They probably just saw the internet guys outside and told Cam to go over and say a couple sentences.

RW said...

So is it the general feeling among the newspaper reporters that you guys were left out here on purpose?

Andy Bitter said...

I'll let everyone else draw conclusions.

clint.pattersuhn said...

Back and to the Left...Back and to the left

Do I detect a slight Zapruder vibe? :)

Tar Heel Tiger said...

so, if the former player wasn't Rogers, who could it have been?

Just wondering said...

It seems as if the athletic department can get Phillip and Mark to do their bidding at any time. Phillip was quick to run with the "blame Urban Meyer'' spin on things, which must seem credible for those who believe in unicorns and UFOs.

MikeP said...

The former player could have been a figment of John Bond's imagination. There is simply NO substance to this story at any level.

The State fans don't like to admit it, but there are very few recruits indeed that would sign with MSU if they had a chance to go to Auburn.

Can Newton is a long way from the first and he won't be the last to turn down an MSU offer in favor of Auburn.