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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NCAA: Rules violation took place in Newton case, but QB has full eligibility reinstated immediately

Here's an updated version of my story at 7:37 p.m. It adds a quote from Gene Chizik:
AUBURN, Ala. — The NCAA concluded that Cam Newton's father broke rules by engaging in pay-for-play talks with another school last year, but that the Auburn quarterback did not know about it and is eligible to play when the No. 1 Tigers take on South Carolina in the SEC championship game Saturday.

The NCAA determined Monday that a violation of amateurism rules occurred during Newton's recruitment to Mississippi State last November.

Auburn discreetly ruled Newton ineligible Tuesday, as required when a rules violation is found, but sought his immediate reinstatement, which was granted Wednesday by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff with no additional penalty.

“In determining how a violation impacts a student-athlete’s eligibility, we must consider the young person’s responsibility," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs.

"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 NCAA release did not officially close the case on Newton, saying reinstatement decisions are independent of the enforcement process and typically are made after facts of the student-athlete's involvement are determined.

Donald Jackson, a Montgomery-based attorney who specializes in cases regarding NCAA eligibility issues, said on Paul Finebaum's radio show that he wouldn't rule out that the enforcement investigation continues, but he said it isn't likely.

"A lot of the facts and a lot of the issues that would be addressed in the enforcement staff investigation probably have already been addressed during the course of this investigation," he said.

Jackson said if the NCAA enforcement staff decides to levy sanctions against Auburn in the future, it "would essentially be acknowledging the fact that they failed to adequately investigate it the first time."

While not a definitive end to the saga, it at least temporarily eases concerns of Tigers fans that Auburn's national title hopes and Newton's Heisman Trophy candidacy could be in jeopardy.

"I'm glad to get all that behind us," Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said, "because we're focused on one thing — and that's winning the game in Atlanta."

Chizik did not entertain other non-football related questions about Newton, who hasn't missed any practice despite the off-field turmoil.

Mississippi State first reported concerns about Newton's recruitment to the SEC offices last January.

The NCAA, in conjunction with the schools, looked into the matter this summer, but the story made national headlines in the last month after two Mississippi State boosters publicly said they were approached by ex-teammate Kenny Rogers seeking $100,000 to $180,000 on behalf of Newton's father, Cecil.

The NCAA said Wednesday that its enforcement staff and Auburn agreed that Cecil Newton and the owner of a scouting service worked together to "actively market the student-athlete as part of a pay-for-play scheme in return for Newton's commitment to play football."

NCAA Bylaw 12.3.3 prohibits individuals or entities from representing prospective student-athletes in order to gain compensation from a school.

As part of the decision, Auburn has limited the access Newton's father has to the athletics program. Asked to clarify what that means, Auburn spokesman Kirk Sampson wrote in an e-mail: "That's a private matter between (athletics director) Jay Jacobs and Mr. Newton."

Rogers was not named in the report, but Mississippi State has disassociated itself from him, Rogers' lawyer, Doug Zeit, confirmed to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

"The conduct of Cam Newton’s father and the involved individual is unacceptable and has no place in the SEC or in intercollegiate athletics,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. “The actions taken by Auburn University and Mississippi State University make it clear this behavior will not be tolerated in the SEC.”

Auburn offered no further comment on Wednesday's release, although Jacobs wrote a letter to students and season ticket holders explaining the school's stance.

"Some of you have been frustrated by our inability to comment publicly on this matter in recent weeks and by the absence of factual information amidst the firestorm of reports," he wrote.

"Your frustration is understandable. The Auburn Athletics Department declined to comment on these recent reports out of respect for the process. To do otherwise would not have been in Auburn's best interest or in the best interest of our student-athletes, and we hope you understand that.

"Know that we will always act with character and integrity and that we will always do what is best for Auburn University. That has been and will continue to be the case."


Bret Moore said...

Finally. Of course, kid's father's going to get royally trashed on ESPN. But I think we all knew this was coming. Does this mean that NCAA is not going to impose any sanctions on MSU?

Bret Moore said...

Hrm, guess not!
Reinstatement decisions are independent of the NCAA enforcement process and typically are made once the facts of the student-athlete’s involvement are determined. The reinstatement process is likely to conclude prior to the close of an investigation. It is NCAA policy not to comment on current, pending or potential investigations.

Chris P. said...

Weagle, weagle, Cam is legal, kick'em in the butt Big Blue!

Michael Val Hietter said...

Wow. A friend of mine thought this is pretty much what happened--Kenny Rogers was trying to make his "cut" and convinced Cecil that it was okay to put a deal together--Then Cecil figured out it wasn't "okay" and abruptly pulled Cam out of the developing Miss St. cesspool and into Auburn (where there was NO talk of money).

Cam and AU vindicated--Kenny proven as a scumbag (and possibly up for legal action), and unfortunately Cecil shown to be manipulated by aforementioned scumbag (but other than that, nothing but pride and reputation hurt).

Michael Val
(who thinks it sucks to be Kenny, but IGTBAAT!!!)

Anonymous said...

Hilarious... www.iscameligible.com

Anonymous said...

Since he was declared ineligible on Tuesday and not reinstated until today, did this cause him to miss any practice time? If so, do you think it hurt Auburn's preparation for USC?

Andy Bitter said...

Not sure about the timeline. It might have taken place last night.

I do know that the game was temporarily taken off several Vegas books for a period of time. Somebody knew something.

As for game prep, even if he missed one practice, it wouldn't be the end of the world.

brian said...

andy sorry to ask a stupid question but in plain english,is this good for us,and do you think this is over?

Ryan said...


While Andy is a much better expert on this stuff than me, from what I understand though this is GREAT for us but it is not over yet.

It is a positive sign showing they don't have enough on him at this time to rule him ineligible. That combined with how far along the investigation seemingly is seems to be a pretty good sign that Cam is going to be in the clear on this.

Again, this is just to the extent of my understanding of the process and what was going on.

*Also, Andy, that is an interesting note that the Vegas books took the lines down. Crazy how they know things most others don't.

Andy Bitter said...

I think it is good for Auburn.

Cam is eligible. The school has not been found of wrongdoing.

While the NCAA matter is not closed (and enforcement issues are usually finalized long after eligibility issues from what I've read), I don't think that would be something that would focus on Auburn. Quite honestly, it sounds like more of a Mississippi State issue.

War Eagle AC-47 said...

I think Vegas took the lines down after reports that Garcia was seen at practice with his arm in a sling. Auburn kept the Newton thing on the super down low, so I would go with the overt reason.

Andy Bitter said...

I trust Vegas to get its information if it needs it. Not saying the Garcia thing couldn't have been it. But somebody had to know something about this.

Ryan said...

I hope it is OK to link to another site, but PM posted a blog over at his site with his personal opinion of why the investigation is over and his reasoning behind it... pretty interesting read:


RW said...

I don't agree at all with the assertion that Vegas took down this game because they had knowledge of this beforehand.

Why would they take the game down if they knew Newton WOULD be playing? They set the line under that assumption...this ruling changes nothing. I would also say that if someone in the NCAA is in the business of reporting their rulings to Vegas bookies, that is an investigation waiting to happen. The game was pulled because of Garcia's injuries and uncertainies regarding his playing on Saturday.

Vegas bookies aren't some sort of all-knowing deities. They make their calls based on facts. Any thinking otherwise is just a conspiracy theory.

Andy Bitter said...

Auburn ruled him ineligible on Tuesday, the same day the line came down at a few places.

That was a fact. Not a well-known one. But it was a fact.

RJ said...

Having lived in Vegas and graduated from UNLV, I can tell you that bookies and the like know FAR MORE than the average person. Face it, they will lose millions if they don't keep up with this stuff. Let's say Cam gets suspended and they don't know about it. They lose a LOT of money.

Trust me, the gambling community has 'connections' that you can't even imagine exist. That's all I can say without taking the chance that my body will be found floating in Lake Mead...

postermom said...

People at ESPN and all over the country are absolutely foaming at the mouth because Newton wasn't "punished", and are saying, "But it's not over! The NCAA could still do something!" It's like the most galling disappointment of their lives. Sheesh! Haters gotta hate. What does it mean to be disassociated? "Henceforth, let his name be stricken from the record. So let it be written. So let it be done."

Andy Bitter said...

They de-friend him on Facebook.

I think it means no contact whatsoever between the program and the individual.

postermom said...

Oh. Kind of like when Santa Claus threatened the evil magician who melted Frosty.

Nancy said...

Trust me...this is not over. Too many people have a vested interest in Cam being guilty of something and we will soon be seeing new allegations from anonymous sources. Auburn people need to rally around....lots of verbal garbage to come on our sports Blogs.

War Eagle AC-47 said...

On your poll, I voted that the story is over. But guys like Joe Schad are not going to stop with their ominous sounding adjectives which continue to stir the pot of doubt.
The simple fact remains, as long as Auburn paid no money and the Newtons did not receive money then there is no crime. Only the Thought Police can arrest people for contemplating and then changing their minds about possible wrong-doing.
I don't know why this is so hard for people to accept. This is nothing like the Reggie Bush situation because Newton did not receive any extra benefits.

Aubiester said...

I said all along this would turn out fine... I also said Auburn and Cam COULD NOT TALK FOR A REASON. I was right.

MikeP said...

Joe Schad is not going to eat crow on national TV. He's said too much and now he's hung out to dry and won't admit it.

The truth is that this is over as far as Cam and Auburn are concerned. The NCAA would NOT have stuck its neck out and later have to back up. They could have waited for years if they weren't comfortable with declaring Cam eligible. Rest assured that they have a team of skilled, experienced investigators who said Auburn and Cam are clean. Remember, the NCAA has been working on this since at least July, maybe earlier.

The Mississippi State end of it may not be wrapped up yet, but as of right now Cam Newton's eligibility at Auburn is no more in question than any of the other 10,000 NCAA athletes across the country.

CHB said...

I completely understand the people that think this opens up all kinds of future possibilities. However, should a kid and a school be punished for something that his father did at another school? Albert Means got UAT in trouble and then went on to play at Memphis.

AUsome04 said...

AUsome, HA, HA.

I saw that Joe Schad report. He looked so hurt. AB, I know all ya'll reporters were crying that no one was able to scoop Cam Newton being ineligible, lol.

My brother who's also an Auburn grad heard it on the radio in Atlanta when it broke. He said the radio people were pissed. AU held the cards close to the vest on that one. This has nothing to do with Auburn now. War Cam Eagle.