Why the NCAA got it right in the Cameron Newton case

There are a lot of people in Athens, Ga., Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Los Angeles, Calif. who are going to get mad at this statement. But here it goes:

Based on what  its investigators have determined, the NCAA got it right with Wednesday’s ruling on Cameron Newton.

Early Wednesday afternoon the NCAA announced that Auburn’s quarterback was eligible to play immediately. That statement became necessary because on Monday the NCAA determined that a violation of amateurism rules occured when Newton’s father had conversations with a former Mississippi State player about a possible pay-for-play scheme. The NCAA informed Auburn of this and the school, as it must, declared Newton ineligible on Tuesday (How they kept that secret is amazing). Auburn petitioned the NCAA to reinstate Newton as soon as possible. The NCAA  committee that determines these types of things granted that reinstatement on Wednesday.

That was the process.

The NCAA enforcement staff has been investigating this case since last summer. Here are their findings as of Monday:

**–Newton’s father and the owner of a scouting service (various media reports have identified this man as former Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers) had conversations about a possible play-for-pay deal for the son’s services.

**–Cameron Newton had no knowledge his father’s actions.

**–Neither Auburn University nor anyone representing its athletics interests had any involvement in or was aware of the activity between Cecil Newton and Kenny Rogers.

That’s it.

Now if you’re a Georgia fan and you saw A.J. Green lose four games for selling a jersey, you think there is a double standard. Same at Alabama, where Marcell Dareus sat two games for accepting travel expenses to attend that infamous agent’s party in South Florida. At USC they are wondering why they got hammered. From the Trojans’ perspective Reggie Bush’s parents had their hands out just like Cecil Newton. All Cecil Newton got was limited access to the Auburn football program in the future. Big deal.

They are thinking that a high-profile player (Newton) and a high-profile league (SEC) got a pass from the NCAA  just three days before a high-profile team (Auburn) played in a high-profile game (SEC championship) that was worth a lot of money to everyone concerned. This also had to get tidied up because the Heisman Trophy is going to be presented a week from Saturday (Dec. 11) and how uncomfortable would it be for the winner not to talk to the media?

I get all that. In the internet age nothing just happens anymore. Nobody just looks at a set of facts and makes a decision. It is always part of a vast conspiracy to keep the rich and powerful in their positions of wealth and power and to keep somebody else down. There are always larger forces at work.

There is a big difference between the three cases above and the Newton case. In those cases there was a finding of FACT that money and extra benefits actually changed hands. Green admitted he received $1,000 for the jersey (whether or not that should be a violation is a different argument). Dareus admitted that somebody paid his way to South Florida. It took a four years but the the NCAA proved, to its satisfaction, that almost $300,000 in benefits went to Bush or his parents.

In the Newton case, the father solicted money either directly or indirectly in his conversations with Rogers and, at this point, there is no evidence that money or extra benefits ever changed hands.

Now a lot of you are simply not going to believe that the kid did not know what the father was up to. A lot of you refuse to believe that Cecil Newton and his contact only solicted money from one school (Mississippi State) which said no. A lot of you believe this ruling  just opens the door for parents to sell their sons to the highest bidder–as long as they keep their talented sons in the dark. I can’t tell you how many people told me on Wednesday that this was a “slippery slope.”

Maybe it is. But remember that a slippery slope can slide both ways. If the NCAA punished School A because a father solicted money from School B (and no money changed hands and school A didn’t even know the solicitation took place), now you have another slippery slope where the possibilities are endless. If I’m a recruiter at school B and lost a recruit to school A, when the head coach starts chewing on my butt I can just put it out there that the parent solicited money from me and get school A in trouble and take the heat off me.

The fact is that on Wednesday the NCAA issued a very narrow ruling in an area where there is a gap in its legislation. We know that the mere solicitation is a violation of amateurism rules, which is why Auburn had to suspend Newton on Tuesday. An NCAA representative told me the knowledge, or the lack thereof, of the athlete is a “mitigating factor” in whether or not the athlete is eventually reinstated.

But can you punish a school that is not involved in that solicitation simply because the athlete chose that school? Do you at least have to have evidence that the school did something wrong?  Eventually, the NCAA will have to get some clarity on this issue.

Now could the facts on the ground change? Could there be evidence uncovered in the future that contradicts the current findings of the NCAA enforcement staff? Of course.

But the NCAA can only make its ruling based on what it knows today. Because of the unique nature of this case, the NCAA owed it to everybody involved to get some kind of resolution if it was possible. Thus, Newton is eligible to play on Saturday against South Carolina.

One more thing. A number of you sent me this rule from the SEC’s bylaws:

 
14.01.3.3. Financial Aid. If at any time before or after matriculation in a member institution a student-athlete or
any member of his/her family receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or assistance beyond or in
addition to that permitted by the Bylaws of this Conference (except such aid or assistance as such student-athlete
may receive from those persons on whom the student is naturally or legally dependent for support), such student-athlete
shall be ineligible for competition in any intercollegiate sport within the Conference for the remainder of
his/her college career.

I checked with the SEC and the rule above does not apply in the Newton case. That’s because the key passage is: “AGREES to receive, directly or indirectly.” In this case there is evidence that Cecil Newton, directly or indirectly, SOLICITED extra benefits. There is no evidence, at this point, that there was an agreement (such as a handshake agreement) by one party to pay and another party to receive an extra benefit.

If it is ever proven that Cecil Newton agreed to receive money instead of just talking about it, then we have a whole new ball game. But until that day comes, the NCAA has to apply the rules as written. Stuff like this is why the NCAA bylaws look like a copy of the Manhattan phone book. Those rules are going to have to grow in order to account for this case. And until it does, the kid gets to play.

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872 comments Add your comment

NCAA

December 2nd, 2010
6:56 am

Just don’t get caught!

NCAA

December 2nd, 2010
6:57 am

Look, we could not upset the SEC dominance train.

Saint Simons

December 2nd, 2010
6:58 am

(((( 45 – 42 ))))

HAHAHAHAHAHA

UGADawg83

December 2nd, 2010
7:03 am

I just don’t think that if money was asked for at MSU then he is playing at Auburn for free. Auburn is just better at hiding the money.

Sanford Drive

December 2nd, 2010
7:05 am

Let’s just hope he goes to the NFL next year. He is not good for college football or the SEC.

And everybody watch him play TE in tge NFL. Just like Richt thought……..

Pulpwood Smith

December 2nd, 2010
7:05 am

You’re wrong Tony……it is all about money. Why do you think the SEC sat on it when they were informed by MSU in January of the solicitation? Auburn just happens to be in the postion this year of being the SEC’s “bell cow” and Mike Slive will protect that position, and the financial benefits it gains, at all costs.

The Blair Miss Project

December 2nd, 2010
7:07 am

<——– WIDE LEFT <———–

(((((42-34)))))
9-1
61-39-5
We STILL Run This State!!!!

georgia87

December 2nd, 2010
7:08 am

Tony, I appreciate the fact that you recognize that we non-Auburn fans must feel that the NCAA gave us the shaft. However, I think that your logic is inconsistent. If Mr. Newton solicited funds, that is an implicit agreement to receive them. They were apparently not offered. As it was ably pointed out on another blog last night, just because you didn’t actually get any money when you tried to rob the bank doesn’t mean that you can’t be charged with attempted robbery. Intent and action combined created guilt.

The argument that other schools can simply make charges to suspend the eligibility of athletes from their rivals doesn’t hold water. We know, by his own admission, that Mr. Newton actually did solicit funds. This is not a charge, it is a fact that is not in dispute.

But the one that rankles most for me, as a Georgia fan, is the fact that Cam was cleared because he “didn’t know” what his father was up to. AJ Green was given two extra games because he sold his jersey to an “agent”. You made the distinction yourself. However, after reading the case, even the NCAA itself had to stretch to connect him to an agency. But AJ Green was punished because he was supposed to know that the guy was an agent, even though the testimony of the actual individual was that he did not approach AJ that way at all. He simply wanted a piece of memorabilia.

piper

December 2nd, 2010
7:09 am

why now then tony? why suspend him 2 games after the allegations arose? he obviously knew about the solicitation before the georgia game. does that mean he played two games while ineligible? and why didn’t the ncaa just leave him ineligible until their investigation is complete like they did with AJ? they made a point in the release that the investigation hasn’t been closed.

and you can’t convince me that a solicitation to receive isn’t an agreement. if i ask for something, i’ve agreed to receive it. will i get it? maybe. maybe not. but if i ask and someone agrees to give it to me, i’m obviously taking it. if it were the other way around, ie a solicitation to give by a school, that’s NOT an agreement. but it’s not.

SuperB

December 2nd, 2010
7:10 am

Tony,
I understand the libel laws under which the AJC operates. One question: Do you know if Cam Newton, in a telephone call with the recruiter from Mississippi State, apologized to the recruiter for not being able to come there; explaining that the money was too good at Auburn to turn down?

Big Dawg

December 2nd, 2010
7:12 am

Just don’t get caught is right. This ruling will open the flood gates now.

SECWonderland

December 2nd, 2010
7:13 am

Thanks Tony. I agree with your scenario about a recruiter from school A messing with school B. For that matter I don’t see why any fan or ‘friend of the family’ couldn’t do the same thing. Obviously the NCAA needs to clarify some rules. Shame on Cecil for even contemplating taking money but I think the NCAA got it right in an ugly situation.

Sickofstory

December 2nd, 2010
7:14 am

First time I have ever pulled for SOS in my life.PLEASE end this story,USC!

Dooley the Vol

December 2nd, 2010
7:15 am

you would have to pay me at least 180k to go to MSU….

P.S. I wonder if anyone has checked the donation plate at Rev. Cecil’s church for a weekly donation of $9999.00.

JB

December 2nd, 2010
7:19 am

Here’s my question… CN wanted to go to MS Ss, to play for his old coach, Dan Mullen. Why did he end up at AU???? We know his Dad asked for $ and didn’t get it from MS St. Hence and again, why didn’t he go where his old coach, who he knew well and liked, is and why AU?

The kid is the best played in college football but this thing still stinks.

HBTD!!!

Dawg_Mike

December 2nd, 2010
7:19 am

Here we go folks….over 700 blog hits once again by 3 different AJC blogs that basically say the same thing…
Meanwhile, I heard that there was a game upcoming Saturday night in ATL.

Auburn Man

December 2nd, 2010
7:20 am

@SuperB That quote comes from the same guy who said he hadb text msgs that Cecil had sent and his phone would show that call from Cam. Unfortunately the phone got wet somehow and he couldn’t show the msgs or call records. Well, you and I both know one phone call to the phone Co. and that a report is run in minutes. Especially when the NCAA is the one inquiring. Not to mention as a customer anyone of us can get that done. So, knowing that fact would be hard to overcome in denying contact I have to assume it never happened. I also would point out that this is the guy who knew Newton was shopping months before Cam signed with Au but still kept talking to Cam to continue his recruitment. Not to mention this is the guy who then tried to get the cash together by contacting the guys that could raise the money. So is he a good Samaritan for going to the AD or did he only go to the AD after AU got their man?

BB

December 2nd, 2010
7:20 am

Cam Newton will never play tight end, have you ever seen him take a real hit- NO, when he knows he’s caught he goes down.

MAJOR

December 2nd, 2010
7:22 am

What UGA and other fans keep forgetting here is that other schools (Tennessee and Oklahoma) both have commented that the recruitment of Newton was normal and no solicitation was made. In the Auburn case, no solicitation was made. The FBI is involved in this matter because of Kenny Rogers. He is a rogue agent and he was extorting money from Bill Bell. Even Bond and Bell have come oout nd said that this is a MSU matter.

The NCAA investigated everythng at Auburn and found that no one had ever spoken to Kenney Rogers. Also Auburn’s compliance department is considered one of the best in the country. Rich McGlynn, Auburn;’s Compliance Director, was the former #2 with the NCAA compliance department.

So sorry UGA fans, if you believe that Auburn was paying players then get ready to open your books because there are plenty of rumors coming from Athens.

Max Sizemore

December 2nd, 2010
7:23 am

Those are very good points, Georgia87.

Auburn Man

December 2nd, 2010
7:25 am

The reason Newton would have picked AU was they run the offense Cam would excel in. This much cash is too easy to see in a family like this. It would take minutes to see their entire financial life. So get over it, UGA just had a bad year and focusing on Cam isn’t going to make your pain go away.

MAJOR

December 2nd, 2010
7:25 am

JB This is easy, Cam wanted to go to Auburn out of high school but Auburn was only taking one QB and chose Kodi Burns. Also there will be more coming out on this later but he would have definitely been ineligible at MSU. The rule states that a student athlete is immediately ineligible at a school where the solicitation is made,

cfb addict

December 2nd, 2010
7:26 am

BB, Ask the Arkansas middle linebacker if Cam shies away from contact …… if he can speak yet.

georgia87

December 2nd, 2010
7:29 am

Major – I am not forgetting that. This is not about Auburn, at the moment. It is about the eligibility of Cam Newton. It is an oddity that the infraction occurred at a different school and he attends Auburn. But the fact that an infraction took place is not under dispute. No matter what school he attends, in my opinion, he should be ineligible. It always hurts the school that he attends. Believe me, I am a Georgia fan who had to watch the first four games without our best player.

Max – Thx

Bulldog59

December 2nd, 2010
7:31 am

A BS ruling plain and simple by the NCAA. If Newton was a backup QB at Wake Forest, he would have been ruled ineligible in about 15 minutes.

The logical suspension of Newton, would ruin the SEC Title Game, a $300 per ticket game on stub hub, and 10s of millions of dollars in revenue. Not to mention destroying any hopes of a meaningful BCS Title Game, which dwarfs the SECTG in revenue.

So, the NCAA who always paints with a BROAD BRUSH suddenly is splitting hairs like high priced lawyers?

Possibly, just possibly, they know or suspect Auburn has much bigger problems than the Cam Newton issue, and this will be small potatoes when they, and the FBI announce their findings?

JB

December 2nd, 2010
7:33 am

So, Major, are you saying he DID know about the solicitation???? Hence, the reason he didn’t go to MS St????

Two, the AU fan that talks about UGA opening their books all I can say is LOL!

Lastly, is the FBI done with their investigation????

HBTD!!!

UgaLeeDawg

December 2nd, 2010
7:33 am

So why why why did UGA go ahead and do the right thing and suspend Green. Alabama got a decision and it was over quick. Then Cam is Ineligible and within 24 hours they figure it out? What the Hell? Why call him ineligible in the first place??? I am not saying the NCAA wants the SEC to win but this stinks Tony. Stinks bad. If his daddy did it you punish him too. Why, well if you lie with dogs you get fleas. I can’t help to think if this was UGA, as a matter of fact this WOULD NOT be UGA. Another reason to thank our lucky stars for Mark Richt.

Uncle Rico

December 2nd, 2010
7:34 am

Tony Barnhart….another one of the NCAAs useful idiots. Good job Tony!!

THE DAWG ATTY

December 2nd, 2010
7:34 am

Super B

That is all heresay and never been proven. Joe Schad says he knows because someone told him but no one has a recording of any call. Also it is rumored tohave been Dan Mullen’s wife. With the problems facing MSU and Dan Mullen wanting out of Starkville, this will not come out. They also face a problem with his wife being labeled as a recruiter, only coaches can talk on the phone with recruits.

The Thursday before theUGA game, Auburn, the Newtons, SEC officials, and the NCAA officials met in Auburn. Everything was put on the table. MSU was brought into this meeting by conference call and this deal was made. I believe that the SEC and NCAA told Auburn and MSU to stop talking. MSU had to as they realized that this thing had blown up in their face. I really don;t blieve that Auburn paid the Newtons anything. I believe that Rogers had tried to exploit money from MSU boosters. It is well documented that Rogers has financial problems and he drug Cecil Newton in. In the long run Tony is right, this was the only thing the NCAA could do.

Fleming Island Dawg

December 2nd, 2010
7:34 am

We all know its just GA fans that are concerned right? Its not the entire country. Cam Newton is so squeaky clean all his violations while at FL including 13 traffic violations in a year which if it was a GA player people would have called for a life sentece and stealing a laptop including intimidating a witness. This was all a big mistake he didn’t know it was stolen so he threw it out the window after texting his buddy asking what he should do. Once a thug always a thug and if anybody belives his father never told him what he was doing you are crazy!!!!

Bored

December 2nd, 2010
7:36 am

You are so correct. The AJC is a sad option for all of us. I’m also tired of Tony crying about this. You would think he went to Auburn.

Mike

December 2nd, 2010
7:37 am

What’s wrong about the ruling is that any parent can shop their kid for cash to a school w/o fear of penalty of the NCAA…as long as the kid doesn’t know anything about it…they have set the precident.

3rdN8

December 2nd, 2010
7:40 am

I too am sick of this story. Hopefully, for AU, and the other members of the SEC, this is the end of it….but I doubt it. I do agree that the NCAA did the right thing under the circumstances….at least today’s circumstances. That’s all a governing body like the NCAA can do…at this moment.

I’m also sick of these players being referred to as “kids”. They’re adults, and should be treated accordingly. They should also be held accountable for their actions.

The Navy and Marine Corp ran a facility called the Portsmouth Brig for most of this past century. It was full of “kids”.

Father of 5

December 2nd, 2010
7:41 am

Tony, you know very well that nothing is “right” about this decision. If this happened in September, CN is not reinstated for at least 2 games. If this happened to a QB at Va Tech with the exact same timing, the player MUST pay some penalty — at a minimum, he’d miss the game Saturday. The ONLY reason CN is reinstated with unprecedented speed and will take the field Saturday is that the NCAA bows to the SEC. Make that conference mad, and the SEC will take it’s ball and form a superconference and leave the NCAA in the dust. Justice is nowhere to be found in this situation. Only extortion.

Big Al

December 2nd, 2010
7:44 am

Major that is the issue now it is legal to ask for money as long as the son doesn’t know—are you kidding me!

Tony why did Auburn make him ineligible this week and not last Friday? Since you are Mr. College Football why didn’t you know about it?

alabama voodoo

December 2nd, 2010
7:48 am

The best part of all this is for every hater on here Cam Newton is best cfb anyvof you yahoos have seen. Jealousy and Envy damn that must sting. Freaking pathetic crybabies. Funnier why don’t you UGA rednecks just enjoy the Liberty Bowl with your criminal team. Laughing in your freaking Fat Face!

chiefdawg

December 2nd, 2010
7:48 am

You don’t have to punish Auburn. All you have to do is declare Scam Newton ineligible. Since his father admitted to solicitation of money,Scam Newton should be suspended. Auburn gets no penalty just like UGA and AL. The only penalty is you lose a player. Auburn knew all this was going on and should have suspeneded Scam until the NCAA could make a ruling. Auburn chose the low road.

sour grapes losers

December 2nd, 2010
7:49 am

thanks tony. great article. unfortunately most of your readers fall into 1 very large category, idiots. its over you stupid idiots. Auburn University and Cam Newton did nothing wrong. no matter how vicious the rumors and innuendo alabama and their boosters tried to feed the media for 2 weeks, the NCAA looks at facts. the fact was NO benefit was received and Auburn overcame this smear campaign to beat the 2 dirtiest coaches and programs in the sec. suck it georgia. eat it bama. we won, YOU LOST. grow a pair and deal with it, you pansies.

alabama voodoo

December 2nd, 2010
7:50 am

Big Al u are a huge crybaby remember when it was 24-0? How bout 27-21? Better yet 28-27 this cam newton is too good to be true

3rdN8

December 2nd, 2010
7:53 am

Strange statement from the FBI.

An FBI spokesman a couple of weeks ago stated that the bureau was looking at this case becaouse it “didn’t want parents selling their children”. Really? Where in the FBI’s charter does that one show up?

If Mr. Newton’s son was a top PhD in Fluid Dynamics, getting involved with his son’s recruitment by Boeing, or whoever would be applauded. Negotiating a signing bonus would be applauded even louder.

So again….why is the FBI here, and what is their real interest?

alabama voodoo

December 2nd, 2010
7:54 am

Scam Newton yeah right more like Heisman CamPain cause all these racist middle aged white rednecks are mad he plays at Auburn. I heard Cam Newton kicked a dog when he was 12 oh no he is just like Mike Vick…idiots

Steve Spurrier

December 2nd, 2010
7:54 am

Your all idiots if you think Cam knew nothing about this !

Barnhart's Boring Opinions

December 2nd, 2010
7:54 am

Tony must be on the NCAA payroll. You have marched lockstep with the NCAA through this whole scandal. I believe you have made the transition from insider to part of the regime…

TrishaDishaWarEagle

December 2nd, 2010
7:55 am

NCAA to haters//nothing to see here, move along!

WAR DAMN EAGLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To the Dome……!

No, it can't

December 2nd, 2010
7:56 am

“But remember that a slippery slope can slide both ways.”

A flat slippery surface can, but a slope cannot. Gravity sees to that. It would take energy and traction to overcome gravity, which is not a slide.

Silly Tony, stay out of physics and stick to football. Pfft.

maroonseedymon

December 2nd, 2010
7:56 am

you couldn’t pay me enough to go to UT-K

ET

December 2nd, 2010
7:57 am

To all you Bulldog fans – Just remember in this country one cannot be held liable for another’s action, especially if they have no knowledge of the action. If we start doing so, talk about a slippery slop.

Most of what has been reported is vicious gossip and blogger stupidity. Sports Journalism has taken a big hit over this story. Whatever happened to “innocent till proven guilty”. Report the facts. Get the story right….

MY opinion is that Cecil Newton did something stupid at Miss. State (started a or got talked into a money conversations by a professional recruiter) (keyword – professional). Miss. State boosters were involved. This made Miss. State immediately ineligible but not the conference (per SEC rules). Cecil Newton got cold feet about Miss. State or someone told him he was making a mistake and he told his son to sign with another conference team (Auburn) or (insert name of school). Cam was being recruited by several other schools (SEC and non SEC).

If Cam Newton was playing for Miss. State right now, he would have been declared ineligible and Miss. State would be facing sanctions.

As Tony has pointed out, you can’t sanction school B for school A’s indiscretions. If that was allowed, fans / boosters from one school would issue lies about another school and/or player. The NCAA and conference would be chasing their tails with endless investigations.

If you look at the time line this kinda happened with Cam Newton. Cam becomes a Heisman hopeful and Miss. State and its boosters start leaking rumors. Florida starts leaking rumors about academic problems. If Cam Newton was not the phenom his is right now, do you think we would be talking about this?

None of us were “in the room” with Cecil Newton. We just don’t know. The NCAA, SEC, Auburn, and Miss State, have all looked at this. They have told all of us what they know and applied the rules as they see it.

The FBI and State of Mississippi agencies are looking into the broader “pay for play” implications, and the possible leaking of academic records. That story is far from done.

Remember – Justice is blind. This does not mean right or fair.

Time will tell.

Jake

December 2nd, 2010
7:57 am

Glad they cleared Cam.. If SC was to beat Auburn,, they need Cam playing to settle who’s the SEC Champ. Should be a great game.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

December 2nd, 2010
7:58 am

@no,it can’t…

actually, on the quantum level, a slope could slide both ways..theoreticaly

maroonseedymon

December 2nd, 2010
7:58 am

sour grapes losers: one sure sign of an unthinking, uneducated, closed-minded person is to call any and everyone who disagrees with your viewpoint idiots! so…..