Cameron Newton story reaching critical mass

It was my hope this morning to take a break from the ongoing, sordid saga that as become the Cameron Newton story and write about what is going to be another great football weekend:

We have the No. 2 team in the nation (Auburn) trying to stay alive in the race for the national championship against a traditional rival (Georgia) which needs a signature win to save its season.

We have the drama of a winner take all game at Florida where Steve Spurrier, the former Gator coach, has a chance to take South Carolina to its first-ever SEC championship game.

But the Cameron Newton story has sucked all of the oxygen out of this college football season. It’s sad. But you can’t ignore it even if you want to.

So for the second straight week we will not do our Fearless Friday Forecast.  Here, based on a very long Thursday, is where I believe we are on the Cameron Newton Story:

We are quickly reaching critical mass. Two big events happened yesterday that make me feel this way.

 Remember that ESPN.com reported on Wednesday that: “Two sources who can recruit for Mississippi State  said that Cecil Newton and his son, quarterback Cam Newton, admitted in separate phone conversations to a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited last year.” The claim was that Newton told Mississippi State coaches that he wasn’t coming to Starkville because his dad got a deal to ship him somewhere else. Let me also point out that there is no evidence and no one claiming directly that Auburn has broken any rules.

Yesterday we reminded you that Mississippi State originally brought the idea to the SEC that there might be some problems with Cameron Newton’s recruitment. The SEC asked for more information but that additional information was not forthcoming until July. So inquiring minds wanted to know why,  if Mississippi State had direct info that Newton had made this claim to staff members, wasn’t this dealt with this summer? That is a very serious charge.

But the SEC, through spokesman Charles Bloom, revealed that in the reports that it received back from Mississippi State on this issue there was no mention–none–of any such conversations between staffers and the Newtons. I independently confirmed that last night with the SEC office.

So on this matter we are left to draw one of three conclusions:

1. Mississippi State did not share that information with the SEC because it did not want to get that deeply involved in the case and hoped it would just go away.

2. The conversations that were reported by ESPN.com may have taken place but were not with Mississippi State assistant coaches or the head coach (the only people allowed to recruit under NCAA rules) but were with lower level staffers. Thus the Mississippi State brass was not aware of them.

3. The conversations never took place and were incorrectly reported.

Here is the second big item: Last night Kenny Rogers, the former Mississippi State player who started this story, decided to “come clean” on a talk show in Dallas. Accompanied by this attorney (who was on the phone), Rogers told host Ian Fitzsimmons that he and Cameron Newton’s father, Cecil, met with Mississippi State coaches in Starkville on Nov. 27, 2009. Rogers said Cecil Newton asked for money to sign his son and that one of the Mississippi State coaches said “No, no I don’t want to hear that.”

Rogers said later in the interview that Cecil Newton told him that it would take “Anywhere between $100,000 and $180,000″ for his son to sign with Mississippi State.

I spoke with Fitzsimmons last night and he confirmed that all of the reporting on Rogers’ appearance was accurate.

We now have a new name in this this mix. Bill Bell is a successful Mississippi State booster and  told ESPN.com last night that Cecil Newton did in fact ask for money to sign his son. Rogers said that he was referred to Bell on the issue of money.  Bell also said he has already discussed this matter with the NCAA.

Rogers also said that he first contacted Cecil Newton to offer his help when Cameron left Florida. Rogers said that Cecil Newton said, in so many words,  ”It’s not gonna be free this time.”

Folks, I’ve been covering this league a long time but it looks like were are definitely in some uncharted waters here. Just a few observations as we move forward:

**–I know Mississippi State has a game on Saturday with Alabama, but if I’m the SEC I want every coach on that staff, including the head coach, to look me in the eye and tell me if Cecil Newton or Cameron Newton actually made those claims. And if those coaches lie to me they will be fired on the spot and will never–EVER–get another job in college athletics again.

**–The FBI has gotten involved and we’re not sure why. But former Mississippi State player John Bond, whose contact with Kenny Rogers started this story, said yesterday that he’ll be talking to the FBI.

**–Cecil Newton is not talking to the media any more and has lawyered up.

**–This story has been going on for more than a week and there is not one allegation that Auburn has done anything wrong.  I am not saying I know Auburn hasn’t done anything wrong. We don’t know. I am familiar with the enforcement and compliance staff over there led by Rich McGlynn, and they are a pretty tough bunch. If they had some evidence that Cameron Newton’s father got money from anybody to sign his son, the school would have to sit him. It looks like a roll of the dice to me given all the smoke but you can’t sit the kid if you don’t have some evidence.

**–Does the mere solicitation of money, even if it was not acted upon, constitute an NCAA rules violation? There seems to be some debate on that. An NCAA spokesperson told Yahoo Sports that, in general terms, if somebody solicted money on Newton’s behalf, even if the solicitation was not acted upon, then that constitutes an NCAA violation. Attorney Don Jackson, who represents athletes in cases such as these, questioned that claim when he appeared on Paul Finebaum’s show yesterday. But if that is true and the NCAA has reason to believe that somebody solicted money for Newton, including Newton’s father, the NCAA can recommend that Auburn sit Newton down until the matter is resolved.

**–If that happens, Auburn will have a decision to make. Remember that it is the responsibility of the institution to sit the player if there are possible rules violations. That’s what Georgia did in the case of A.J. Green. Once the player is suspended, then the institution applies for reinstatement. In the case of Green the NCAA denied reinstatement until after Green served a four-game suspension. So this isn’t on the NCAA or the SEC. It’s on Auburn. And as of Friday morning Auburn appears to be ”All In” on Cameron Newton. If you love Auburn, and have a lot of friends who do, you had better pray Jay Jacobs and the rest of that staff are right.

Stay tuned. This story is moving fast and a lot could happen between now and Saturday’s 3:30 kickoff.

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746 comments Add your comment

UGA fans are so ...

November 12th, 2010
9:52 am

If it’s true that Auburn paid for Cam Newton, it can be said that they got a better ROI than Alabama did with Albert Means.

travy

November 12th, 2010
9:53 am

listen to the intvw here midway down the page:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=5792707

imho, dude sounds fishy.

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
9:53 am

The FBI is involved because of the breach of federal privacy law at UF and the possible abuse of the tax exempt status of Cecil’s 5 churches. If only the Mann Act could someohow be implicated, they would have the trifecta.

Mobile Dawg

November 12th, 2010
9:54 am

Right now it sounds like a lot of circumstancial evidence to me. I don’t know how your going to track an anonymous donation to a church unless someone were sloppy. And for the FBI, someone tell me why they would be interested in NCAA politics.

Michael Vick

November 12th, 2010
9:54 am

RXdawg: You ever heard of UGA having any trouble with Jr College players?

You wanna bet on the game Saturday?

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
9:54 am

Cam is the Steve Jobs of the pay for play marketplace.

Auburn Will Forfiet Entire Season

November 12th, 2010
9:55 am

Auburn is blind to the truth. They will end up forfieting the entire season, national championship, sec championship and lose multiplte scholarships and massive probation…it is coming…Auburn has a long road ahead of them. You can thank Mr. Newton for a great “fradulent” season.

Mobile Dawg

November 12th, 2010
9:57 am

I can see the UF breach of privacy. An anonymous donation to a church in cash, if it happened, don’t know why the Feds would even know about that. Highly circumstancial, but could you hang your hat on that as a violation?

OkefenokeeDawg

November 12th, 2010
9:57 am

There was an article in ESPN this week about a scenario where LSU would get in the BCSCG, without even winning the West.

It gave me heartburn, cause I remember ESPN, and Les Miles repeating for a week, that UGA shouldn’t get voted into the BCSCG after the ‘07 season, “because they didn’t even win the East.”

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
9:57 am

When this all comes out, the Chiz will move to an undisclosed yurt in Ulan-Bator.

pk

November 12th, 2010
9:58 am

Enter your comments here

pk

November 12th, 2010
9:59 am

After Newton committed to Auburn, another source said an emotional Cam Newton phoned another recruiter to express regret that he wouldn’t be going to Mississippi State, stating that his father, Cecil, had chosen Auburn for him because “the money was too much.”
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=5792707

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
10:00 am

@MobileDawg

Agree, that is why the I exists in FBI. They will investigate and then have something to hang a hat on. These stories are more than enough probable cause to initiate the investigation. You would think that the FBI might be a little more worried about Al-Qaeda’s new field commander or ACORN or something though.

Michael Vick

November 12th, 2010
10:01 am

Your Tattoos are Lame:
Tigers, or Eagles? No, we’re the team that beats the bullbit-h-s more than they beat us……and we’ll be adding 1 on Saturday!

3rdN8

November 12th, 2010
10:02 am

I hope all Auburn fans believe that at least one Bama fan hopes this is cleared up. I take no joy in this situation.

but….on a more broader plain.

Bama, Texas A&M, and Washington were all busted for pay-for-play type scenarios. All of which involved car dealers (who were boosters). Please note: these scandals involved SEC, Big 12, and PAC 10 teams….anyone who thinks the SEC is alone in this type of behavior, should be subjected to daily rectal cavity exams.

What I can’t figure out is: these are smart guys (they’ve made millions in their businesses…which enables them to lay down impressive sums of cash without their wives finding out). Why then is it so easy for a bumbling-fool of an operation like the NCCA to smoke them out?

I think all school boosters should be forced to take a Money Management course that is offered by Vinnie LaCoderosa of Hacknsack New Jersey.

Tony ..

November 12th, 2010
10:02 am

“Stay tuned. This story is moving fast and a lot could happen between now and Saturday’s 3:30 kickoff”

Tony.. you are hoping !!! You are such a Dawg

Michael Vick

November 12th, 2010
10:03 am

RXDawg:
It appeared UGA enjoyed playing Jim Harrick’s players……….while they took bogus classes and tests (given by UGA!!!!). Try and Deny!!!!!!!!!
Let’s just say………………the GLOVE, FIT!

Eat it bull pup!

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
10:04 am

Tony is an Aubie Homer…that is why he has “Barn” in his nom de plum.

NewnanDawg

November 12th, 2010
10:05 am

Weagle Weagle Cam Ain’t Legal

travy

November 12th, 2010
10:05 am

listen to the interview. rogers is lying

JC65

November 12th, 2010
10:06 am

IF,,,, any NCAA sanctions are passed down against any school,they WILL NOT happen until after the fact. The season will be over and regardless of the outcome, forfiet of games, or whatever the teams AU has beaten will know they were beaten. They might be able to change the official records but in fans minds they will know the truth. The only team I can ever remember being stripped of a national title is USC. AU has nothing to lose by palying Cam in the rest of the games,unless the NCAA orders them to suspend him for the remainder of the season. I’m not sure the NCAA even does that. As a BAMA fan I say AU should take their chances and play him. What do they have to lose?

dr gonzo

November 12th, 2010
10:08 am

Quote by “We Are Family”
“We shall stand in denial until Hell freezes over. We shall nitpick every nuance of every speck of evidence presented. We shall deride the process and condemn the investigators. We shall create straw-man arguments to deflect attention away from the facts of the case.

We shall fly down the field — ever to conquer, never to yield.

WAR CAM EAGLE”

lol, what a tool.

nader taters

November 12th, 2010
10:10 am

Auburn’s defiance and arrogance are going to bite them in the end. But at this point of the season with only 2 games left, would they really benefit from sitting him once all the goodies become official on their cheating??

icallbs

November 12th, 2010
10:10 am

Nothing about this REMOTELY resembles the travesty that was the Duke lacrosse case. Good grief.

3rdN8

November 12th, 2010
10:11 am

@ JC65

You are wrong sir! Playing Newton, while having some degree of certainty that he is inelgible will effect AU for several years. It compounds the transgression, and goes to a lack of institutional control. Bama fans can certainly remember that category.

word to the wise

November 12th, 2010
10:11 am

Jim Harrick is President Adams doing. Any other school President would have been canned on the spot for dragging in such a virus, but Adams appears to have 9 lives.

Rusty

November 12th, 2010
10:11 am

You’re a joke Tony. I saw you being interviewed on ESPN several days ago saying what a travesty it is that this kid is being persecuted this way, and whatever happened to being innocent before proven guilty. Guess you’re singing a different tune now, huh? College football is the worst. The only sports where a legit national champion isn’t crowned, but instead is determined by people like you. Pretty sorry stuff if you ask me.

4WhatIt'sWorth

November 12th, 2010
10:12 am

Tony,
Why don’t you interview some of Auburn’s premier commitments and gauge their concern. I will be interesting to see how many start to schedule other visits.

lail

November 12th, 2010
10:13 am

this doesn’t resemble the Duke lacrosse case because in this situation the allegations all appear to be true, and not concocted on a moment’s notice.

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
10:14 am

@JC

The reason for sitting Cam is simple. You don’t want a USC-like nea death probation experience.

JC65

November 12th, 2010
10:16 am

@3rdn8 He has already played 1 game after this story started. The key word in your post is (having some degree of certainty) as of now nobody is certain of anything.

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
10:17 am

Damn I would like a deep pit barbecue sandwich with hot sauce and pickles….apropos of nothing other than being hungry.

Chris

November 12th, 2010
10:17 am

Tony, How about SEC not only asking coaches on MSU’s staff, but include Auburns staff, and Cecil Newton as well? Get Florida, Auburn, Alabama on the record before Saturday’s game.

Georgia Rolls!

November 12th, 2010
10:18 am

Georgia wins 42-17. This controversy allows us to whip the Tigers yet again when highly ranked!

travy

November 12th, 2010
10:18 am

icalbs- it does mirror the duke case in that it looks obviously bad on the surface–dirty college football, newton spurns former coach, shady preacher needs money–but if you dig even a little beyond the circumstantial evidence, there’s no substance to the allegations.

again, i would not be the least bit surprised if all the worst being reported about the newtons is true but at this point all we have is the word of wannabe agents and grifters who are without a doubt the most corrupt and greedy people in sports.

JC65

November 12th, 2010
10:18 am

@ cecil At this point it’s like the old saying in for a penny in for a pound.

3rdN8

November 12th, 2010
10:20 am

JC65

I’m not trying to parse words, but the level of “degree” would be (I think) key. The NCCA tends to err on the side of caution, and I’m guessing that any reasonable doubt as to elgibility would suffice.

MikeP

November 12th, 2010
10:21 am

This whole issue rests on the word of Kenny Rogers. Rogers is charged by the NFL Players Association for impersonating one of their representatives and they may prosecute. He’s currently under investigation by the NFL for impersonating a registered agent and his bank is looking for him in regard to $11,000 worth of bad checks.
Rogers told a completely different story yesterday than the story he told last Friday, to the extent that if he were in a courtroom the judge would have tossed him out.

He’s a sleeze and a con artist. The simplest explanation being the best, I think Rogers was trying to scam some wealthy MSU boosters out of $180,000 and they didn’t bite. Neither Auburn or the Newtons knew anything about it.

If the NCAA thought there was the slightest indication that Cam Newton or Auburn was involved, they’d have advised Auburn to sit Cam out back in August. As UGA fans know very well, the NCAA is not at all shy about “advising” schools not to use a player.

That the NCAA has NOT advised Auburn to hold Cam Newton out speaks volumes. Remember, while this information is new to the general public, the SEC and NCAA have been investigating this for months.

Sorry, I’ll believe the NCAA, Auburn and Cam Newton before I take the word of some sleezebag street agent that has already been caught lying about this situation.

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
10:21 am

@JC

Last week, it was more possible to defend playing Cam on a lack of evidence. This week that is less true but arguable. If something more comes out next week, deniability may cease being plausible. This is not a question of taking a single step off a cliff…it is more like heading down a slippery path a step at a time.

Bama12

November 12th, 2010
10:21 am

Cam Newton father is the person who needs to be in trouble with the NCAA and the law.
GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Zack MettenDawg

November 12th, 2010
10:21 am

my offers for next year:

AL $250,000
LSU $275,000
OK $325,000

Cam/Cecil should have asked for my type numbers.

BAMA dude

November 12th, 2010
10:22 am

JC65

November 12th, 2010
10:16 am
@3rdn8 He has already played 1 game after this story started. The key word in your post is (having some degree of certainty) as of now nobody is certain of anything.

We don’t know what the NCAA has. Bill Bell has reportedly spoken to them and told ESPN that Cecil did in fact ask for money.

BAMA dude

November 12th, 2010
10:22 am

MikeP

November 12th, 2010
10:21 am
This whole issue rests on the word of Kenny Rogers

If that were true it would not be front page news.

Miles

November 12th, 2010
10:23 am

Cam Newton is a SCUMBAG!

stevo

November 12th, 2010
10:23 am

There has been mention on the idea of pay for play. We all know the enormity of money being genrated by football and basketball. But the conundrum most people don’t realize is that many atheletic departments run in the red and not the black. Title IX and non-revenue sports eat up a lot of the money being generated by the big two. Obviously the NCAA has to reform its rule on the idea of extra benefits. If not, then we will continue to see the scandals which have come to light these past few months. The jealousy and contempt between programs will continue as we have seen in the Cam Newton saga. Something has to be done. But what is it?

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
10:23 am

@Mikep

Mike, there seems to be more evidence from MSU coaches linking Cecil (man of God) to the money demands. it seems less and less like Kenny (singer, chicken magnate, agent) freelancing and scamming.

Miles

November 12th, 2010
10:23 am

Cam Newton’s father is a SCUMBAG!

Miles

November 12th, 2010
10:24 am

Chizik is a gambler!

Miles

November 12th, 2010
10:25 am

Jay Jacob’s is a gambler!

3rdN8

November 12th, 2010
10:25 am

@ Zack MettenDawg

What a sorry post. We could pony up every bit as much as LSU. They’re still bussing people back into New Orleans.