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

just saying?

December 2nd, 2010
1:46 pm

rwo,

UGA recuits thugs
Auburn buys thugs
Got any laptops for sale?

don

December 2nd, 2010
1:49 pm

This legalizes bad behavior – gonna be a whole lot more shoppin goin on out there – Mark Emmerett of the NCCA busted his wad on this one – no more credibility

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
1:50 pm

Hey JB, it appears AU knew just what they were doing. They knew what a winner Chizik was front his stint as a DC at AU and it appears they were right. I hope you are happy with Richt because he sure has brougt your program to new lows. Seems like a couple of years ago somebody started out #1 but couldn’t hold it. Maybe it was because half the team was in jail.

aubie#1

December 2nd, 2010
1:52 pm

and got Creamed by Alabama at home:P

JB

December 2nd, 2010
1:54 pm

rwo…..great year…….As bad as we have been, you do remember Dawgs BEAT YA’ll like a rented mule four years in a row……Do you remember.? You are a second class citizen in your own state, and next year without Scam and that thug Fairley, You will be back to being Auburn….Like us, really nothing special……

PALADIN DEATH DEALER

December 2nd, 2010
1:55 pm

NOW I CAN TELL YOU PLAIN AND SIMPLE CAM DIDN’T KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE MONEY DEAL CAUSE I AIN’T TALKED TO HIM IN A LITTLE OVER 2 YEARS……THATS MY STORY AND I’M STICKING TO IT…THEY GOT ME ALL LAWYERED UP NOW, SO IT GOT ALL THE PROTECTION I NEED……YOU ALL GOT TO BELIEVE ME, I’M A PREACHER, FOR GOODNESS SAKE…..PREACHER MAN NEWTON

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
1:55 pm

JB,

So you beat us 4 in a row. We own the overall series. Wow. That has a lot to do with anything.

aubie#1

December 2nd, 2010
1:56 pm

Thug?!?!?!?! Fairley?!?!?!?!? SCAM!!!!!!!??????????? What? And who cares about that 4 year win streak, we still hold the overall win record:P

Cam-A-Lot

December 2nd, 2010
1:57 pm

Great article and thanks for explaining it in terms (most) football fans can understand.

PALADIN DEATH DEALER

December 2nd, 2010
1:57 pm

PART OF THE DEAL WITH CHIDZIK IS HE KNOWS HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED AT AUBURN…COULD BE THE REASON HE GOT THE JOB COMING FROM LOWLY IOWA STATE WITH A TERRIBLE RECORD….JUST SAYING

First to Worst

December 2nd, 2010
1:58 pm

How many wins next year for Auburn less Cama-lama-ding-dong ?

The winning formula is : 1) lay it all on the line 2) buy the best one year “wonder” on the market 3) any coach will do 4) all deals to be made with parents 5) study the loopholes in the NCAA rule book 6) use only ATM’s without camera’s 7) accept forfeiture of all games 4 years later but who cares since the coach will move on 8) accept the fact that you are building for 1 year only.

Oh yeah, Auburn loses 5 games next year easy. Building for the future!

JB

December 2nd, 2010
1:58 pm

Gotta go…..Calling the Federal Court house in Montgomery to see if it’s general admission or Assigned seating….LOL

PALADIN DEATH DEALER

December 2nd, 2010
2:00 pm

TONY, AS A YOUNG MAN OUT OF GREENSBORO GEORGIA WITH A TON OF STREET SMARTS AND COMMON SENSE, DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE THAT YOU PUT IN YOUR ARTICLE………**–Cameron Newton had no knowledge his father’s actions. WOW, WOW, WOW…….

JoeSchmo888

December 2nd, 2010
2:01 pm

:) 8) :P ;) Well said First to Worst

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
2:01 pm

Paladin Death Dealer,

I think you are right. Coach Chizik apparently knows how the game is played because his team is 12-0. Don’t you wish your coach knew how to play the game that well?

JB,

There might be a few people in the State of Alabama that wouldn’t consider us second class citizens. Ask the Tide how they feel.

Scott

December 2nd, 2010
2:03 pm

I love all the Yech fans pretending to be kitten fans. Classic.

JB

December 2nd, 2010
2:04 pm

The NCAA is between a rock and a hard place….With no play off, they have to get AU in the game with Oregon. Oregon vs TCU….really ? This will talked about for a while. They done messed in their pants with them still up.

aubie#1

December 2nd, 2010
2:04 pm

leaving this converse, enjoyed it! while it lasted:P now it’s just hate blogs :(

just saying?

December 2nd, 2010
2:05 pm

rwo,

Can you please tell me what Richt’s record is against Aubarn?

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
2:05 pm

First to Worst,

Too bad you have to live in the present because ugay has 6 losses this year. Your coach has had about 10 years and all he has built up is the coffers of lawyers while defending all the ugay thugs.

We may lose 5 games next year or more but we have won 12 this year including 49-31 over ygay.

Tide Rising

December 2nd, 2010
2:06 pm

Does anyone with a mind really think that Cam Newton had no clue what his dad was doing?

If my dad sold me out I think I’ld be a little depressed, despondent, and feel pretty betrayed. Cam sure doesn’t show the demeanor of a kid whose dad betrayed him. Matter of fact he seems pretty happy go lucky.

When Albert Means found out that his high school coach- who he regarded as his father figure, had sold him out he withdrew from school, became depressed over the betrayal, and a year later was out of school and football. Contrast that with Cam’s state of mind.

I can’t read Cam’s mind. But judging from his behavior either this kid has such low moral values that he sees no problem with his dad selling him and it doesn’t bother him in the least- or he was in on it the whole time and this is why his dad selling him out doesn’t seem to bother him. As far as his morals go or lack thereof- receiving stolen property and allegedly being on the verge of expulsion from UF for not one but three separate instances of academic fraud means the whole thing just doesn’t bother him. Which is it AU fans? He either was clueless and for some strange reason being sold doesn’t bother him one iota- or he was in on it the whole time with pop.

Now I’ll just sit back and listen to the AU fans talk about what a great kid he is.

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
2:07 pm

Just saying,

I know what Richt’s record is this year against AU (0-1) and 6-6 against all opponents. What have you done for me lately is what you ought to be asking your hypocritical coach.

just saying?

December 2nd, 2010
2:08 pm

rwo,

Please make suer you are back on Monday to discuss Saturday’s loss with up.It will be so much fun for u

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
2:09 pm

Tide Rising,

You off all people with SABAN as a coach can’t say anything about morals because he is the lowest of the low.

just saying?

December 2nd, 2010
2:09 pm

I can see what your coach as done for yall lately. To the tune of $200,000 Your team sure better win the BCS or they will go broke at the rate they are paying for talent.

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
2:10 pm

Just saying,

Don’t you just wish you could be there so you would have something to talk about rather than continue to whine and blather so much.

Tide Rising

December 2nd, 2010
2:10 pm

Where did Cecil Newton’s small church suddenly come up with 50k to repair a church that they had been warned by the city for a year was about to be condemned if they couldn’t bring it up to code? So far the church is refusing to say where this mystery money came from when they couldn’t raise anywhere near the money needed for the past couple of years. Was it the tooth fairy or the Cam cash fairy that dropped in the 50k needed for the repairs?

Tide Rising

December 2nd, 2010
2:12 pm

rwo,

You’re right dude. Saban is the lowest of the low because he changed his mind and took a job that he initially said he wouldn’t take. How terrible. He must have broke some kind of a law right?

Cameron

December 2nd, 2010
2:12 pm

@Tide Rising

I’ve been living this scam my whole life. It ain’t nothing new to me.

Morals are for suckers. That’s what Daddy said – looks like he was right.

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
2:12 pm

Just Saying,

The NCAA disagrees with you and most of the rest of your fellows haters who are so filled with jealousy and can’t accept the fact we beat you on the field.

just saying?

December 2nd, 2010
2:12 pm

Nah,

I dont want to be embarrassed by Spurrier. Im just whining and blathering to keep pace with you.

Gary

December 2nd, 2010
2:13 pm

Tony, how does it feel to be so wrong, so often, so publically. We all make mistakes, Excet Auburn and Cam who did nothing wrong, but rarely are our mistakes so public. Is there some sort of Shame calss you take at night school to live with knowing most everyone thinks you are an idiot… I don’t think so, I think your opinion is based on how many responses you get. I really do not think you believe what you have written. You just wan’t 16 pages of responses. Kudos.

To Auburn, NC*! Suck *! It* will always be there*. You cheated* to win*. Are you going to grab Mettinberger next. Criminal U*

just saying?

December 2nd, 2010
2:14 pm

rwo,

Not a Auburn or Cam hater at all.Just dont like bloggers like you that spew out WE ARE THE KINGS OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL like you do!

JPTigers

December 2nd, 2010
2:15 pm

Am I missing something here? When did Cecil Newton say that he “brought up” the money discussions. The NCAA has only said they believe “money was discussed”. But it has not been established who exactly brought it up & under what circumstances the scheme would be enacted. Plus like I said before no money ever changed hands because CAM DID NOT GO TO MSU! Bell and Rogers felt burned b/c Cecil evidently backed out so they snitched to the NCAA. Of course it’s somewhat ironic b/c they incriminated themselves & cleared Cam in the process lol. He only would have been ineligible at MSU not AU! Then when Cam started piling up big #’s and beasting on the SEC Bond calls up ESPN to drag all this back up. Who prompted Bond to go to ESPN? Hmmmm….

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
2:15 pm

Tide Rising,

If bama didn’t control the SEC you would have gotten the death penalty over the julio incident and the decatur debacle but you were able to kill that. Bama came the closest to getting the death penalty than anyone has since SMU. You better count your lucky stars that you controlled the SEC or bama wouldn’t even be playing football today.

Cameron

December 2nd, 2010
2:16 pm

I am the King* of CFB!

Auburn is just my fiefdom.

Gary

December 2nd, 2010
2:17 pm

Never have I been prouder to be a Hater.

KR

December 2nd, 2010
2:17 pm

Tide Rising: the legal troubles of Mark Ingram’s father didn’t seem to have an effect on his play or demeanor. Some people are able to set aside their emotions and get on with what needs to be done. Apparently Ingram is one of them. Perhaps Cam Newton is another one of them.

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
2:17 pm

Just Saying,

I certainly don’t feel that I’ve put AU up as the Kings of Football. We accomplished a lot and it is being overshadowed by a bunch of haters who have no facts about anything.

5IML

December 2nd, 2010
2:18 pm

TR,

Cam did not buy a stolen laptop. The police report says he “took” it himself. Other than that, I find no fault with your post.

JPTigers

December 2nd, 2010
2:18 pm

Tide Rising they came up with the money b/c Cam’s brother signed with the Jax. Jaguars and got a huge signing bonus. The repairs were actually finished before Cam signed on the dotted line with any school. But I guess if u got your head stuck in the sand u can’t let facts get in the way lol mullet

Cameron

December 2nd, 2010
2:18 pm

Me and Mark both have criminal Daddies.

Mark would be a lot richer right now if he’d followed in his Dad’s footsteps – like me!

Gary

December 2nd, 2010
2:18 pm

You did not win it on the field, you won it in nigotiations with dad and the NCAA. Cam doesn’t play you loose 8 games this year. Have fun next year cheaters.

5IML

December 2nd, 2010
2:19 pm

rwo,

If BAMA runs the SEC, why is Cam eligible to play this weekend?

Cameron

December 2nd, 2010
2:19 pm

My brother got dumped by the Jags and is now on the scout team. That’s why daddy needed ME to come up with the cash.

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
2:20 pm

Just Saying,

You’ve been embarrased by Spurrier on many occasions. How many times did ugay beat UF while Spurrier was there? I certainly don’t like the idea of having to play him twice in one year. As ugay found out it is hard to ever beat him once a year but having to do it twice is not a welcome thought.

5IML

December 2nd, 2010
2:22 pm

JP,

Any word on how much The Right Reverend Cecil charged for Cam’s brother to go to college?

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
2:22 pm

551Ml,

the reason he is still playing because try as they might THEY COULD FIND NOTHING WRONG.

Grantland Rice

December 2nd, 2010
2:23 pm

rwo

What is the “decatur debacle”?

rwo

December 2nd, 2010
2:25 pm

Cameron,

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ESPN Heisman winner follow in his dad’s footsteps and end up in prison.