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.

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661 comments Add your comment

patrick

November 10th, 2010
12:26 pm

If he cheated at a PUBLIC school how is that a privacy issue? State funds (from our tax dollars) pay for the school. Its EVERYONES right to know if they are getting educated or are cheating

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
12:26 pm

Twitter just blew up with reports that Cam will be suspended within four hours. Apparently Ian Fitzsimmons of ESPN Radio Dallas got the scoop somehow.

elliot

November 10th, 2010
12:29 pm

If you are serious Bama Dude that is massive news. Kodi Burns isn’t a horrible second option, but he’s no Cam. Wow.

elliot

November 10th, 2010
12:31 pm

Auburn is clearly imploding. Sad, but they made the bed so they got to sleep in it.

Driving Ms Dooley

November 10th, 2010
12:31 pm

Suspended for how long? By the NCAA or Auburn?

he said what?

November 10th, 2010
12:32 pm

Tony wins the office pool for most comments this week. Half price appitizers at Applebee’s yay!!!!!!!!!

Driving Ms Dooley

November 10th, 2010
12:33 pm

This Sucks. The whole SEC is being brought down by this. I guess I’m pulling for The Hat now.

elliot

November 10th, 2010
12:34 pm

Auburn history of cheating has caught up with them again

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
12:35 pm

Don’t know. It’s being reported on Warblogle, tigerdroppings, and others. Don’t know if it’s true but it’s everywhere.

Driving Ms Dooley

November 10th, 2010
12:35 pm

If you think about it LSU fans are the only winners here. They now have a shot at the SEC and NCG unless the rest of the world is just disgusted with the SEC and puts BoysEasy ahead of a one loss SEC champ.

blazer

November 10th, 2010
12:35 pm

just hope Newton has about 3oo total yards himself this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harold Machen

November 10th, 2010
12:35 pm

You guys who buy irk by the barrell are full of crap.

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
12:36 pm

Driving Ms Dooley

November 10th, 2010
12:31 pm
Suspended for how long? By the NCAA or Auburn?

He says the NCAA. I’m assuming it would be indefinite due to eligibility.

LSUFan

November 10th, 2010
12:36 pm

Great article Tony, but what about the allegations of money being paid to Cam Newton and his father from Auburn after MSU wouldn’t give Cam “more than an athletic scholarship”. What about the fact that they didn’t deny that the conversations took place? Screw the academic allegations! Yes, cheating is bad; but it happens everyday and unfortunately is not breaking the law.

LSUFan

November 10th, 2010
12:37 pm

YES! I’m sorry if that sounds selfish.

crackatoe

November 10th, 2010
12:38 pm

Enter your comments here

Big Dawg

November 10th, 2010
12:38 pm

@Driving Ms Dooley

I don’t really want to hear any more about how poor the Newton family is. Cam’s Dad had a career in the NFL. Cam’s older brother is currently employed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. It is my understanding that the church in Newnan is only one of six churches in the Atlanta area from which Cecil Newton Sr. receives income.

This whole story of Cam being some poor preacher’s kid who doesn’t know what’s going on with his recruitment just reeks of BS. Cam Newton has never sought an education at any school that he has attended. He is shopping for a high standing in this year’s NFL draft. He will never receive a diploma from any of the schools that he has used in his quest for the almighty dollar. In the end, Cam (and his Dad) will win the prize $$$ and any University that got dragged into his scam will eventually pay a price for playing along with these scoundrels.

Auburn knew what they were getting into when they recruited Cam. I have little sympathy for them, considering the circumstances.

Aubbie98

November 10th, 2010
12:39 pm

Great BLOG!!! you are right on target!!! Someone true or not should be in allot of trouble!!! Now that the FBI is involved somebody is going to the woodshed!!! I think the SEC needs to make it clear no coach or player should ever talk to the media unless it is about a up coming game.

Aubbie98

November 10th, 2010
12:41 pm

Tony- one more thing how come everyong is not talking about Oklahoma saying none of this went on when they recruited Cam???

crackatoe

November 10th, 2010
12:43 pm

WHAT THE WHAT! CHEATIN AT AWBURN. CAN’T BE!

Bewildered

November 10th, 2010
12:44 pm

Has anyone ever stopped to think maybe the SEC and it’s members are not involved in all these heretics? This information was passed along so long ago that it is quite possible that there are NCAA and middle man leaks. It hasn’t been uncommon that we have recv’d information from a NCAA mole/leak. We got information about USC, Bama(all times), FSU, Michigan, Miss State, and Tennessee all before it was released by the NCAA. Has anyone thought that maybe there are people out there falsely representing schools and giving out false information? Where is the call for Press ethics? None of this benefits Auburn, none of this benefits Miss State, and certainly none of this helps Florida. All 3 schools are in precarious situations. I don’t think coaches would try to destroy that at this point.

Realistic Bama Fan

November 10th, 2010
12:44 pm

Give me a break Tony. Stop defending Cam. I know we should all be careful before passing judgment, but there is just too much going on here for Cam to be innocent. As stated above the new report indicates that Cam’s family tried to get money out of Miss state, and Auburn boosters ponied up money to get him to go to Auburn.

The fact that he cheated and purchased a hot laptop and tossed it is out the window is not relevant, but for the fact that we are now be asked to believe this kid’s denials. He is a cheater and thief, but not a liar? Whatever. It’s too bad this might ruin Auburn’s season but that’s how it goes when you pay bad characters to play at your school. Just ask Jim Harrick.

My Laptop is Missing

November 10th, 2010
12:45 pm

Cam for Heisman! I would send in my vote now, but someone stole my laptop.

Tech75

November 10th, 2010
12:45 pm

Look, the SEC is only slightly better than the old SW Conference r.e. “benefits” for athletes.

And the NCAA basically shut the SW conference down.

The SEC is Big Business. They want to keep all this under wraps and manage their image; unfortunately they haven’t been able to in this case.

At some point, the “whistleblower” will have to come forward with the goods… then it’ll time for the **** to hit the fan.

And if that happens, the mighty SEC will have been taken down a few more notches.

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
12:45 pm

Now Finebaum is claiming that he talked to Fitzsimmons and that the quote was “something big COULD happen in 3 to 4 hours.” Fitzsimmons says a blogger took that and ran with it. I am reading that MGM and Las Vegas Hilton have pulled the betting lines for Saturday’s game with Auburn.

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
12:46 pm

BTW, Fitzsimmons was a radio host in Birmingham before moving to a Dallas station in 2009.

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
12:47 pm

re: the pulled lines, I meant Saturday’s AU-UGA game of course…

Big Dawg

November 10th, 2010
12:49 pm

So then, it’s not true that “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”?

;-)

elliot

November 10th, 2010
12:49 pm

Tech75,

Keep dreaming and holding your breath, winner. I know being in a conference 10 weeks into a season with only ONE ranked team hurts, but don’t let it effect your sanity.

MURPHY

November 10th, 2010
12:49 pm

BAMA dude,

No betting lines?

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
12:51 pm

Nope, Murphy, they’re being pulled like crazy. Bodog just pulled theirs too. Apparently Chizik just told somebody that Auburn will play Saturday. Twitter is something else.

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
12:51 pm

I meant that Cam will play. DERP.

Scott

November 10th, 2010
12:53 pm

@ Tech75,

So how far did Tech’s academic scandal several years back “lower” the ACC? Oh nevermind, they were already bottom-of-the-barrel anyway.

MURPHY

November 10th, 2010
12:55 pm

BAMA dude,

What does Cam playing or not have to do with betting lines being on or off? Dont know much bought that stuff.

Mobile Dawg

November 10th, 2010
12:55 pm

I was hoping all this would turn out to be “garbage”. Hope for AU’s sake they were clean and the Newton’s lied to them. Otherwise Tony writes another column about who has a “special place” reserved in hell. Pretty damning evidence continuing to come out.

Bob Boteler

November 10th, 2010
12:57 pm

And the news media gets a free ride??

Scott

November 10th, 2010
12:58 pm

At this point, if Auburn continues to trot Newton out on Saturdays and even half the allegations are true, they can kiss their football program goodbye. They are playing with fire here.

Tech75

November 10th, 2010
12:58 pm

Elliot – If you didn’t define yourself by your affiliation with a football team then all this is common sense and quite obvious.

Anytime you start generating over $40 million in football-related revenue and paying coaches multi-million-dollar salaries you are going to encounter all the same issues that Fortune 500 companies run into regularly….

1. Doing what is necessary to “close the deal”. [gotta have the best players, so you have to do what you have to do to get them - otherwise they'll go elsewhere]
2. Paying what you have to to get the best management. [coaches being paid millions to win have millions of reasons to do what is necessary to keep their jobs]
3. Defending yourself against negative press created by the competition, whether true or purely speculative.

Just the truth; it was bound to happen, and it will happen again. Get used to it.
4. Creating and managing spin related to your company and your products.

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
12:59 pm

MURPHY

November 10th, 2010
12:55 pm
BAMA dude,

What does Cam playing or not have to do with betting lines being on or off? Dont know much bought that stuff.

Obviously one might bet differently based on whether Cam was playing. Betting lines being pulled means somebody somewhere is worried about Cam’s status. Sometimes they pull games due to uncertain injury status involving superstar players too. Must have been some money getting dumped on UGA based on these tweets.

elliot

November 10th, 2010
1:00 pm

Tech75,

Well you would be the authority on such matters given your own academic scandals and also housing FSU, Miami and UNC in your conference.

Paul in RDU

November 10th, 2010
1:01 pm

BAMA dude – “Something big COULD happen in 3-4 hours”. Sounds like the radio version of “disaster strikes – tune in to WXYZ News, pictures at 11″

Seriously – I find the life of this story amazing. In the time of the Internet and the 24/7 news networks, not to mention the World-Wide Leader, I expect bloggers jumping to conclusions but some “journalists” seem to have forgotten the basics.

Big Dawg

November 10th, 2010
1:01 pm

MURPHY

November 10th, 2010
12:55 pm

BAMA dude,

What does Cam playing or not have to do with betting lines being on or off?

MURPHY,

Do you seriously not see the difference between a bet placed on Auburn with Cam Newton vs. Auburn without Cam Newton? You have gotta be kidding me!

Mobile Dawg

November 10th, 2010
1:02 pm

If Newton’s out of the game it becomes a “pickem”. I go so far as to give UGA the nod, was looking forward to seeing him play.

LSUFan

November 10th, 2010
1:03 pm

Only one problem there bewildered…Cam and his father admitted it in a phone interview! Game over.

GeneralNeyland96

November 10th, 2010
1:03 pm

Hopefully the truth will be heard in all this #$%@ eventually, but the one thing that tears me up the most is there is no way IN HELL this would even be a back-page news article if Auburn was having a Vandy (or sadly, UT) type of year this year.

Personally, I want to watch good football…I want it to be played by ethically recruited, academically qualified kids. All of of this off the field drama is better suited for Jersey Shore or Real Housewives…NOT SPORTSCENTER!!

Note to the Vols out there – Let’s hope our guys can keep their heads down and stay focused and try to get better while everyone else is waiting for the SEC to go up in flames!

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
1:05 pm

but the one thing that tears me up the most is there is no way IN HELL this would even be a back-page news article if Auburn was having a Vandy (or sadly, UT) type of year this year.

Or if it was someone other than the Heisman favorite.

Big Dawg

November 10th, 2010
1:05 pm

Georgia and Alabama both get burned by the loss of an opportunity to play against the War Cam Eagle. Auburn might as well go ahead and let him play. Why not? He’s already played ten games. What difference will two more games make at this point?

Tom C

November 10th, 2010
1:06 pm

I watched Cam Newton’s press conference last weekend. I watched his mannerisms and body language while addressing questions about his recruitment. He portrayed the text book characteristics of someone who was lying. Days later all this stuff is coming out of the woodwork. I have read stories that Cecil Newton’s “church” was going to be demolished because of lack of funding to fix it…and now all of a sudden the church is being fixed The Newton family has very questionable character to say the least. Does anyone who isn’t an Auburn/SEC apologist believe anything they say?

Tom

Mobile Dawg

November 10th, 2010
1:07 pm

Do you know the Newtons Tom?

BAMA dude

November 10th, 2010
1:07 pm

Paul in RDU

November 10th, 2010
1:01 pm
BAMA dude – “Something big COULD happen in 3-4 hours”. Sounds like the radio version of “disaster strikes – tune in to WXYZ News, pictures at 11″

Yeah, Twitter has changed the game. Even credible journalists tweet garbage just in case it’s true in effort to be “first.” Strange times indeed.