It may be time for Slive put his foot down again

In the South, we call it a ”Come to Jesus” meeting. That’s when the man (or woman) in charge of an organization calls everybody into a room and lays down the law. Any deviation from this path, the boss says, will result in serious consequences. You fail to heed this warning at your own peril, the boss emphasizes. Now go back out there and behave.

In May of 2009 SEC Commissioner Mike Slive had a “Come to Jesus” meeting with his coaches at the annual Spring Meetings in Destin. The Commish had had enough back biting between Florida coach Urban Meyer and the Boy Wonder at Tennessee, Lane Kiffin. Even Steve Spurrier had thrown in a little jab when asked.

Slive got all of the coaches into a room at the Sandestin Hilton and, in a lawyerly fashion (he is a former district court judge), read them the riot act. Any more of this public food fight and somebody, he warned, was going to get taken to the woodshed.

In the wake of the storm now engulfing the SEC concerning Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton, it could be time for Slive to put his foot down once more.

Here is what we know: The NCAA is investigating whether or not rules were violated in the recruitment of Newton.

That’s it.

But from that one fact has emerged waves charges and counter charges that bring back some very  of the worst days of the SEC.  Slive came on board in 2002 and wanted to clean up the dark side of this conference where rumor and whispers were used as weapons in an attempt to bring another program down. Some progress had been made.  Coaches and other SEC employees were put on notice that free lancing in the area of rules compliance would not be tolerated. There was a process put in place where if an employee of a member institution comes upon information that another member may have broken the rules, that information must go up the chain of command and eventually to the conference office.

Then that information will be assessed and, if warranted, passed on to the NCAA. Those who work for SEC schools may not have direct contact with the NCAA on such information. Employees of SEC schools may not leak information of this kind to the media. If so, they are in direct violation of conference policy.

And it could be that, until yesterday, the chain of command was followed in the Cameron Newton story. We know that Mississippi State acquired some information about the recruitment of Newton (the total accuracy of that information is still uncertain) and that it was passed along to the SEC which passed it along to the NCAA. The rest has been media speculation from unnamed sources.

But yesterday this story changed and took on a very ugly–and perhaps illegal–tone.

Somebody leaked some information that caused a story to be written that Newton faced multiple academic incidents while he was at Florida and was on the verge of expulsion before he left in 2009.  We don’t know if that story is true or not. There have been subsequent reports, from unnamed sources, that the story is not true.

But if the story is true, somebody just broke federal privacy laws in releasing that information. And if that person works for an SEC institution and if the leak ever gets traced back to them, I have a piece of advice: You better lawyer up, buddy, because your life is going to get really complicated. Federal judges don’t really care that much about college football. They do care about people violating federal law for their own amusement.

If the story is not true, and if it came from an employee of an SEC institution,  then the leak it represents the worst kind of behavior that cannot be tolerated. The person who gave misinformation to the media, knowing that it was misinformation, should be fired on the spot if they are ever caught.

And if the academic story about Newton is true, so what? It’s embarrassing to Newton and his family. He should be held accountable for his actions. But beyond that what’s the need for that information, if true, to be made public?  What purpose does it serve if it doesn’t impact this eligibility?  Why would you release that kind of information unless you wanted to embarrass the kid and perhaps negatively impact his ability to perform on the field?  Do you put that information out there because you don’t want the kid to win the Heisman Trophy? Do you want to him be embarrassed enough to turn pro and get out of the league? Did you watch him running up and down the field and enjoying his time at Auburn and think: “This guy isn’t who people think he is. It’s up to me to set the record straight?”

What is this, high school?

Despite various media reports we don’t know if coaches are actually involved in his sorry tale. But if they are, even if the information they leaked is true, the consequences should be fairly harsh. The fact is we may never know who all the leaks are and whether or not coaches have their finger prints on this. But a lot of people sure THINK coaches are involved in this.

In the meantime, it might be a good idea for the Presidents of  the SEC to meet with Commissioner Slive and empower him to do whatever he has to do to get a handle on this.

It puts the commissioner in a tough spot. If he steps out and says something publicly, it adds another layer to the story and keeps it alive for several more news cycles. And if he says something publicly, what exactly does he say and who exactly is he saying it TO?

But what we have now are charges, albeit unsubstantiated, that coaches in this league have violated federal privacy laws at worst and SEC policy at best. It’s probably a good time for everybody in the league to be reminded that they work for the institution and are obligated to follow the rules of the Southeastern Conference. They also need to be reminded that if they violate those policies, the result will not be pretty.

What’s going on now plays into every stereotype the rest of the country has about the SEC. Can you imagine something like this happening in the Big Ten or the Pac-10? Me neither.

It will be tricky, but it’s time for the commissioner to put his foot down again.

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com

661 comments Add your comment

Driving Ms Dooley

November 10th, 2010
10:08 am

Tony, YOU ARE BACK. You nailed it. I was yelling at the TV yesterday when ESPN reported this crap. It has nothing to do with this year. My first thought was “why is ESPN trying to destroy this guy?”

The guy on ESPN was basically saying that Heisman Voters must consider these charges from 2 or 3 or however many years ago. Huh? Are you kidding me with this crap? It waters down the Heisman which I have already lost interest in. I hope they give it a defensive back from the Big Ten. Or better yet–Boys Easy State.

I’m over it. I hope Auburn runs the table because I am equally disgruntled with the BCS. I don’t understand the attacks.

When was the last time that a player came along that was this much better than the rest of the pack. When you watch him, he looks like a 15 yr old playing in the 12 and under league. Please don’t say Tebow, because Tebow was just a fullback and a great leader.

Cam has passing skills, open field moves and speed to burn. I don’t care what ALMOST happened to him at Florida.

I hope Slive is the man who can stop all the crap from raining down on this guy. I’m starting to lose faith. Maybe I’ll turn on a Denver game.

GaDawgs7

November 10th, 2010
10:08 am

If its true, whats the big deal? He only stole, lied, cheated, and took money. It’s not like he gave a choke sign to a kicker or something

Farquare

November 10th, 2010
10:10 am

Take what Herschel Walker was paid in his day and inflate it to current dollars, it would be at least as much as Newton was asking, probably more.

UGA, winner of the Fulmer/Richt Cup and the infamous title of The Cesspool of the South.

Cam Watch

November 10th, 2010
10:10 am

Is it true that Cam actually stole (rather than purchasing) the laptop that spawned this entire drama? I dunno.

What is becoming clearer and clearer is the fact that the Newton family has repeatedly lied about Cam’s circumstances since the time that he was enrolled at Florida. If the Newtons have been willing to lie about issues that don’t even affect Cam’s eligibility to play NCAA football, then one has to question their honesty in matters that actually do affect his college career.

What?

November 10th, 2010
10:10 am

Now to the story. Lots and lots of smoke…dare I say more smoke even then the AJ story?

This is a big deal. If he wanted to be paid to sign with a school…he should absolutely get in trouble.

My question is did the payment light suddenly go on AFTER he left Florida–or was it always on? If it was always on…how did Florida sign him in the first place? Maybe Florida did release the cheating information to further discredit Cam and Mr. Newton for the inevidible point where his original signing bonus is uncovered. If I was Florida and paid good money to sign this kid only for him to screw up royally…I would be really angry at him for seeking a second payday all because he screwed me over.

Barack Dawg

November 10th, 2010
10:11 am

Joe Pa – you are just mad because you won another game to give you 400 wins that no one gives a fat rats ass about. The Big Ten is irrelevant period. You guys could not beat the SEC in the BCS title game even if you cheated. So go have the nurse check your diaper.

JD

November 10th, 2010
10:12 am

Since all of this info was from years ago, the only common thread is that Cam Newton is in the running for the Heisman Trophy and Auburn plays Georgia this weekend. (Doubt that Chattanooga knew anything) I also doubt that Georgia could pull this off unless McGarity was behind it, so it focuses on the Heisman. Florida has a dog in that fight since they would not want him to win it after leaving Gainesville. There is alot of school jealousy when another school has the Heisman. One thing is for sure, they will probably not find out who released the academic info unless they arrest the sports reporter who published the info. (Sounds good to me)

Gatorzone

November 10th, 2010
10:13 am

GaDawgs7 LOL!!!
Take the Bowden approach… We don’t have time for all of these distractions, we got a game to play Saturday!

Jdawg

November 10th, 2010
10:15 am

Let’s just say the allegations are true and he’s stripped of his scholarship at worst. Some defunct NFL team will offer him a multi-million dollar contract. It’s high time that the NCAA stopped being the farm system for the NFL.There are to many kids out there that are much more worthy of a free education than the thugs that are recieving them.

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
10:15 am

jumbeauxtiger

November 10th, 2010
10:01 am
Bamadude,

You said the FBI is involved. Where did you see that at as I must have missed it.

Sorry I didn’t see this right way but looks like Cam Watch linked you at 10:03.

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
10:16 am

Me

November 10th, 2010
10:18 am

Can’t see this going on in the pac-10? what about the reggie bush incident and the years USC was put on probation? This is a non-story as far as Auburn and Cam are concerned…. Think the Bulldogs of Georgia are in trouble this weekend, and MSU bulldogs will be for the next few seasons!

SouthGADawg

November 10th, 2010
10:18 am

He is another Michael Vick. Great football player and just a thug at heart. Dawgs win Saturday. He is a one man show and really good at what he does. I think it will be a good game if UGA comes prepared. Go Dawgs

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
10:19 am

This is a non-story as far as Auburn and Cam are concerned….

No, it’s not. Cam may very well be ineligible to play thus forfeiting every game Auburn played him in.

Cam Watch

November 10th, 2010
10:19 am

@Jdawg

That is the truly sad aspect of this entire fiasco. Even if it is eventually proven beyond any reasonable doubt that Cam Newton was shopped around by his Father, he will exit the scene with a huge NFL contract and Auburn University will be left holding the bag — just like Reggie Bush at USC.

south eastern chumps

November 10th, 2010
10:19 am

Cam is a nice looking kid, got a great future in the NFL and even Hollywood who knows, but integrity and character are part of the Heisman trophy and that remains iffy leaning toward not a good idea in Cam’s regard. Auburn has to deny and downplay because what would be next is Cam would become an ineligible player, it is not just about not winning the Heisman. Then of course, sanctions against Auburn as well. But for grown men in the sportwriting business upset that the Heisman stands for integrity and this player might not fit that bill is shameful. When the laptop went out the window while at Univ of FL, that was the first eyebrow raised on integrity. It is what it is. You know if you want to Tony you can suggest to the college awards committe to give out another trophy for best player where no integrity is involoved whatever. In fact, you can have a rap sheet a mile long. Between the SEC and Pac 10, should be plenty of candidates. Would that make you feel better?

wesleywhatwhat

November 10th, 2010
10:20 am

so an SEC school finds a thug who steals laptops and cheats at another school, and pays him to play football at their school.

is anyone surprised?

Buzz

November 10th, 2010
10:20 am

The breaking news is Newton left UF after getting caught with Foley’s underage daughter in a G’ville hotel room. Come on guys you don’t believe it?? Heck I heard it on the internet , it was leaked by one of the cleaning ladies at the hotel and UF and the SEC have been covering it up!

Chad

November 10th, 2010
10:20 am

this was too long. can i get the cliff notes?

Jiggy Smaha

November 10th, 2010
10:21 am

Keep defending Auburn and Newton, Tony—but two years down the line when Auburn has to “vacate” the victories it has bought–please have the decency to admit how wrong you were “back in the day.”

uga_alum2004

November 10th, 2010
10:22 am

Tony,
First of all let me say that I have enjoyed your columns and insight through the years and have often agreed and respected your views. However, I cannot agree with your views on your last two columns printed in the AJC. This is mainly due to the fact that you have strayed from reporting on the match ups and happenings in the SEC, and have instead begun to “Preach” to everyone how you feel like people should conduct themselves….I’m sorry to sound insulting, but honestly, who do you think you are?
First off, with the Grantham situation last week and his taunting of the kicker on the other team; yes it was wrong and no coach should ever take it to that level, but you were very extreme in your views of how that situation should have been handled. Once again, you were preaching to the readers how things should be done, and that’s a major turn off.
Now this write up has come out about the Cam Newton situation. Whether he is guilty or not is yet to be scene, but don’t preach about the reporting of the story and how this information should be handled to us. The accountability for these actions will fall completely on the shoulders of Newton, guilty or not. If he is not, then your story has some validity to it and you can then write it, giving us the FACTS of who leaked it and what will be done. But don’t write a story just because you feel like (A) it’s a hot topic and you need to cover it, and (B) you get another chance to be “holier than thou.”
I know the chances of you actually reading this are slim, but I can always hope. Please go back to your old style where you told facts and made people feel good about following SEC football. Either that, or go into the ministry.

SouthGADawg

November 10th, 2010
10:23 am

NCAA should have a rule that if you recieve a scholarship from a school you have to graduate. If you quit you pay it back. We are paying for players education and they quit school. There are a lot of kids who would love to have a free ride and get a diploma.

Jeff

November 10th, 2010
10:24 am

Do you HONESTLY think the SEC commissioner has the spine to do anything?????? Remember, this is the moron who cares less about how SEC Officials do their job and was unwilling to take a stand on how games were being called even when sports networks showed reply after replay of the evidence……. so that tells you about his morals or wanting to do what is right. Lets be clear- the commissioner and SEC are about MONEY plain and simple….as for college football as we remember it- that isnt even a consideration.

jumbeauxtiger

November 10th, 2010
10:25 am

Thanks for that link Cam Watch.

T-Dawg

November 10th, 2010
10:25 am

Please let Newton play. There is no honor in whooping a wounded war eagle.

Paul N Destin

November 10th, 2010
10:25 am

Barnhart – you are a total joke. I’m ashamed to say you’re a UGA alum. How you have turned your meager “talents” into a career is a mystery to me and many others. Bottom line is this – Mike Slive should be worried – VERY worried – about the cover-up his office tried to author in regards to Cameron Newton and Auburn University. My guess is Mike Slive will be sitting in his own “Come to Jesus” meeting in the near future…

This is the truth…Slive is on trial in this one only with Newton folks.. The NCAA/Big 10 (all the same) have a real chance to bitchslap the SEC and they’re going for broke…Hold on folks cause this is going to get good

Cam Watch

November 10th, 2010
10:26 am

@Buzz

That’s funny! This would all be just another bad CFB joke if these stories were only coming from sports blogs.

Major media outlets have good attorneys. They don’t arbitrarily report crap that can’t be substantiated or they put themselves at extreme financial liability.

There are lots of comments being made about “smoke” and “fire”. My problem with this story is not the amount of smoke, but the number of blatant lies that have been told by the Newton family. You don’t need to lie if you have nothing to hide. My children know this. I suspect that Cecil Newton should know this as well.

MURPHY

November 10th, 2010
10:26 am

JDawg,

Totally agree.The NFL must stand with the NCAA and hold players accountable for their actions in college.You are right,Cam can just leave with no penalty and sign for millions. That is if he is found of wrong doing.

Gatorzone

November 10th, 2010
10:26 am

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
10:27 am

We are paying for players education and they quit school.

Define “we.” The athletic departments fund the scholarships.

shankit

November 10th, 2010
10:27 am

Who has the most to gain out of this incident?
Former Florida coach, Mullen and MSU?
Nick Saban and Alabama?
Urban Meyer and Florida?
It certainly isn’t Georgia, they are not
in contention for anything.

MURPHY

November 10th, 2010
10:30 am

BAMA dude,

Im sure I have helped fund a few football scholarships with my donations for season tickets over the past 25 plus years.

Alabama Jack

November 10th, 2010
10:30 am

Don’t worry about Saturday dawgs, Y’all be competitive right up until kickoff. Its gonna be so sweet November 26 making sure y’all stay home and watch all the big boy bowl games.

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
10:31 am

jumbeauxtiger

November 10th, 2010
10:25 am
Thanks for that link Cam Watch.

So what do you think? Says here that the FBI doesn’t get involved unless there’s some serious, credible evidence.

jumbeauxtiger

November 10th, 2010
10:31 am

I’m surprise that Auburn is favored by only 8 1/2. This means on a neutral field the War Eagles would be favored by about 5 1/2 over the Dawgs.

My take is that Auburn’s defense is of concern to those who set the line in Vegas.

The Dawgs will be in trouble if the Auburn defense that played against LSU shows up Saturday.

MURPHY

November 10th, 2010
10:32 am

shankit,

If it was ruled today that AU must forfiet all games Cam played in ,wouldnt S.Carolina be the biggest winner as of now? Wouldnt that make them SEC East champs even before this week’s UF game.

Cam Watch

November 10th, 2010
10:33 am

@shankit

Cameron Newton has the most to gain from this story — if it proves to have been true. Nobody in the SEC gains anything from exposing the story. It is a blight upon the conference. Those who have come forward to expose this story would probably rather not be involved.

Jay in VA

November 10th, 2010
10:33 am

That Saint Simmons guy must have absolutely nothing going on in his life. I hope he at least gets his mother to occasional wash the underwear that he spends his day in as he surfs the web in her basement.

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
10:33 am

That’s what I meant Murphy. A lot of folks seem to think that general taxpayers are footing the bill for these kids. Those who donate money to the athletic program through season tickets and other means are helping, with the TV deals picking up the bulk of the cash.

[...] one story in all of this is the SEC and its tolerance for cheating. Tony Barnhart suggested in a column that Slive should “put his foot down” and prevent all these negative things from being [...]

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
10:34 am

Personally, I don’t think the cheating allegation are that bad for Newton, 2 year after the fact.(the money is a whole nuther story) I saw a couple of kids busted for basically the same thing back in my day. Face the music, learn from it, try to come back. I don’t think this was anything he tried to hide from AU, and you certainly would not expect them to have made it public. If they were ok with it, there is no reason to question AU signing him.

Now if it’s true and the U of F, basically basically took three shots at, we really really really mean it this time, on academic cheating…. they would be the ones looking bad, and why they would be the LAST folks on earth that would purposely leak this to the public.

Theres is likely something to it, but the reality is probably far less intriguing and sinister than all the specualtion.

But let’s not rpetend now that there is a presumption of innocense here. Maybe there should be, but there is not. THAT happens when the responce is “this is total BS because it never happened”. When the responce is , “this is total BS, because some federal privacy laws says this should have never been discussed, and he is still “eligible” to play. People don’t tend to feel real generous with the benifit of the doubt when the explaination sound more like a technicality.

A logical and straighforward response to brand new story, that appears to damaging to a high profile player and involving 2 universities…..is not exatcly “beating a dead horse”.

Yea we get it, federal laws were broken. I’m sure that will make it all hush. Ironically, all that defense did was create yet another story inside a story.

The shame of it is that the window has passed now to simply meet it head-on, deal with it, and I would bet, garner a LOT of sympathy (Newton is a victim, either this is false or he did have his privacy breached). Folks hate that stuff, but they love good drama, and that what thsi had turned into.

Jeff

November 10th, 2010
10:34 am

Albama Jack….what a moron….this from a program that spent years on probation…..won 3 games total on a couple of occasions,lost to Louisiana Monroe……and the best of all came VERY close to the NCAA Death Penalty. Seems “bama” might have forgot where they came from…..

jumbeauxtiger

November 10th, 2010
10:35 am

Bamadude,

I wouldn’t think that the FBI would get involved if there wasn’t some substance to it. I’m not implying that the Newtons did anything wrong. But it certainly appears that someone did.

MURPHY

November 10th, 2010
10:35 am

BAMA dude,

It’s all about the money in college football. Always has been.

G8R GRAD

November 10th, 2010
10:36 am

“Isn’t it interesting that all this comes out after Bama gets beat by USC and LSU and they are out of the MNC conversation. Isn’t it interesting that all this comes out after Ingram is not even a whisper in the Heisman conversation. Who is always jealous of anything that little brother Aubie does? Not MSU, not UF, not UGA. Slive needs to look out his window toward Tuscaloosa.”

:-D

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
10:37 am

Most to gain…….is there any doubt that it’s Nick Saban?

Jack

November 10th, 2010
10:37 am

I think we are well beyond worrying about Cam’s privacy rights, and on to worrying about how the SEC has let Newton continue to play. That’s where the worst of the scandal lies.

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
10:39 am

Mornin’ G8R Grad. Found yourself a nice little piece of conspiracy theory to start your day, I see. Nothin’ like a good old Bammer conspiracy.

AltamahaDawg

November 10th, 2010
10:39 am

Who is about to see his “best in the history of college football, back to back NC” team not even win thier conference division?

G8R GRAD

November 10th, 2010
10:40 am

“Now if it’s true and the U of F basically took three shots at, we really really really mean it this time, on academic cheating, [then] they would be the ones looking bad, and why they would be the LAST folks on earth that would purposely leak this to the public.”

Thank you Altamaha Dog.
Your logic is sound, sir!