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

SCam Newton

December 2nd, 2010
3:26 pm

i love the univarsty of Auburn. i love coach cheezdik or whateverr his name be bacause he let’s me run the teem and he gots prety gurls and prety boyz to right my paper and tests and he got Jimy Rayne to funnel mony to my daddys truckin companie.

5IML

December 2nd, 2010
3:27 pm

Auburn Guy,

You are completely missing the point. Per SEC rules, Cam is ineligible to play in the SEC because of that his father (admittedly) did:

“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.”

Auburn Guy

December 2nd, 2010
3:37 pm

Grantland – when the puppies post like adults I’ll address them as adults. Until then I’ll do as I damn well please, Thank you very much and thank you for your best wishes on Saturday.

Tide Rising

December 2nd, 2010
3:42 pm

Gonna head out. The saddest thing about this whole thing is that if AU ends up winning a national title it will either end up being vacated if anything ever does get proven or at the very least the title will forever be tainted. There will always be a good number of common sense people who will find it very hard to believe that Cam had no idea what his father was doing. And the fact that the title will always be tainted is very sad for Auburn- assuming they do win it all of course.

Auburn Guy

December 2nd, 2010
3:42 pm

5IML – Haven’t we been over this about a million times now? Don’t you think that the SEC and the NCAA have already gone over and over this already? THEY have said that Cam is eligible. Not you. Not me. Not anyone else. THEY have said that Cam is eligible. My point was and is that Auburn has known all along that he was eligible. Why can’t you people accept this?

JPTigers

December 2nd, 2010
3:44 pm

5IML Where have I missed the facts? Albert Means got paid 200k to go to the University Of Alabama…..THAT IS A FACT!! Ignorance is calling us out for “alleged” violations when u have no hard evidence to back up your claims. I can’t say FOR SURE 100% we are clean I understand that. But if I was sitting on a jury and was presented these “facts” it would take me all of 5 sec. to acquit! Your main “source” is a known liar with ties to a rival school & a shady past….REST MY CASE!! IT’S INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!!!

Gen Neyland

December 2nd, 2010
3:46 pm

5IML : Are you telling us that Slive ignores the SEC rules..? at which point I say, Slive MAKES the SEC rules, not follows them… I’m not gonna hammer on Slive one way or the other (wink-wink) but this is the guy many have sung praises on for wanting to clean up the SEC, not muddy up the SEC. This is where I’m baffled. Is he passing the ‘Judgement Buck’ to the NCAA so he doesn’t have to make a call..? That’ll keep him looking ‘neat & tidy’ no matter what comes down the pike in the future.

JPTigers

December 2nd, 2010
3:47 pm

Amen Auburn Guy glad someone’s finally got my back lol. Will these mullets ever learn it’s best to just keep your mouth shut! They are calling US cheaters!! That is truly LOL funny it’s business as usual over there and they know it!!

Just Remember......

December 2nd, 2010
3:50 pm

…O.J. was found “not guilty” also.

JPTigers

December 2nd, 2010
3:50 pm

What’s also being missed here is the fact that no1 even thought Cam was gonna be so great this year. Yeah we had big expectations but don’t we every year? No1 outside of the CF insiders even knew who Cam Newton was at the start of this season? U mean to tell me AU would risk certain violations to put a kid on the field who had to win the starting job in spring practice? Coach GC would risk his job & his future?….Not likely

Barner's Delight

December 2nd, 2010
3:51 pm

Auburn Gay- the barn is all in on its hired gun regardless of whther or not he is actually eligible. Without SCam Newton, the barn would be 6-6 at best.

Auburn Man

December 2nd, 2010
3:52 pm

A UGA fan concerned about traffic violations is the biggest laugh I’ve had in months.

Auburn's Limo Driver

December 2nd, 2010
3:53 pm

5IML, This is all hearsay but Cecil did not agree to take the money. Matter of fact he allegedly was disagreeing all the way to the bank. I could hear because the partion was up. Besides they put it in the trunk of my Tiger Recruiting Mobile. So he didn’t actually receive anything. Does that sound ominous enough to skirt the rule. Kind of like “Depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.

Barner's Delight

December 2nd, 2010
3:53 pm

JPbarner- isn’t a barner calling fellow posters “mullets”, like MSU fans calling barners Inbred Trailer Trash?

joseph

December 2nd, 2010
3:55 pm

if uga is paying players, they need to get a refund, they should get a refund from the coaches to

Aech Dawg

December 2nd, 2010
3:55 pm

JP Tigers, your and idiot. Cam Newton was the #1 Juco Recruit in the country. Everyone knew he was going to be great!

aj

December 2nd, 2010
3:56 pm

this is a joke

Arch Dawg

December 2nd, 2010
3:58 pm

Tony, the SEC CG is on CBS right? Who do you work for, uh huh that’s what I thought. Quality journalism.

Auburn Man

December 2nd, 2010
3:59 pm

I think it’s impressive that lawyers and officials of the NCAA and SEC know less than an bunch of bloggers, some of which can’t even spell. At what point do you admit that maybe you don’t fully understand why they would do what they did. Just because you can read the rule doesn’t mean you have all the facts unmarred by innuendo and rummer to make a decision. It’s not all the rule, they have facts that we don’t. UGA still had a bad season and will most likely not beat UF again next year and all this will not change that for the irate masses.

AUGUYinATL

December 2nd, 2010
4:01 pm

What a great day to be an Auburn Tiger. Taking tomorrow off, Cam is eligible, and there’s a little game to be played on Saturday. I wish we were sitting here talking about strategy for the game but looks like the blog is full of idiots once again who can’t quite grasp the fact that this case is totally different than any other case in the past. These individuals are just sad that they lost to us and having sub-par years. Read Tony’s article again, and again, and again…however long it takes. Then if you can explain to me why Auburn and Cam should be penalized for something Cecil did with Mississippi State I’ll try and put up with you.

AUGUYinATL

December 2nd, 2010
4:02 pm

ohhhh yeah………………WAR DAMN EAGLE!!!!!!!

Auburn's Limo Driver

December 2nd, 2010
4:02 pm

Uh…. Auburn Man what the hell does “rummer” mean? Is that an all night rum binge?

JPTigers

December 2nd, 2010
4:03 pm

AEch DAWG “Everyone knew he was going to be great”
Great yes but 12-0 and a heisman trophy winner? No1 in their wildest imagination could have thought he would be this outstanding! There are plenty of “top” recruits who never amount to anything. The fact is he was not even the starter until the end of spring. I’m an AU fan so I should know I was thinking 9-3 at best this year. What were we ranked at the start of the year? No. 22 U couldn’t find 1 person in the country even on the plains who could have dreamed he would win the Heisman Trophy! Simple as that!!

ARdawg

December 2nd, 2010
4:03 pm

Define “sex” your Honor. Oral isn’t sex

Pot meet Kettle

December 2nd, 2010
4:03 pm

“innuendo and rummer”

LOL

ARdawg

December 2nd, 2010
4:04 pm

Barnhart is a Gomer and world class sell-out. Note: Journalist was not mentioned

JPTigers

December 2nd, 2010
4:08 pm

Delight if u live in Mississippi u are not making fun of anybody because the joke’s on you! U know what they say in Alabama, “At least we ain’t Mississippi” lol Most of the trailer trash in AL wears crimson anyway shows how much u know!! U can crawl back under that rock now LMAO

Bristol Palin

December 2nd, 2010
4:13 pm

I think that JPTigers is the most intelligent, articulate, objective, knowledgeable and sophisticated blogger I have ever read.

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
4:17 pm

Gen Neyland

December 2nd, 2010
3:46 pm
5IML : Are you telling us that Slive ignores the SEC rules..? at which point I say, Slive MAKES the SEC rules, not follows them.

He certainly did that in this case. By the letter of the (by)law Cam is ineligible at every SEC school if he’s ineligible at any of them. Slive said he chose to interpret that as a rule for transferring players who have already caused problems at one school.

Auburn Guy

December 2nd, 2010
4:19 pm

Thanks JP, glad to help. Unfortunately nothing is going to get through to these people. Jealousy and pettiness drives them and we aren’t going to change that. Let’s win Saturday and keep pressing on.
War Eagle!

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
4:23 pm

Auburn Guy

December 2nd, 2010
4:19 pm
Thanks JP, glad to help. Unfortunately nothing is going to get through to these people. Jealousy and pettiness drives them and we aren’t going to change that. Let’s win Saturday and keep pressing on.
War Eagle!

If you are associating yourself with an illiterate fool because he also happens to pull for the Barn then, well, don’t know what that says…

Mike

December 2nd, 2010
4:26 pm

The underlying fact of the matter is that the NCAA can’t PROVE it…YET…but are we to believe that Cam had NO knowledge of what his father was doing?!! I think what will happen is the NCAA will let the Fed’s deal with it first and then clean up the ’scraps’ afterwards…there is TOO much smoke in this UNPROVEN bonfine for there to not be ALOT more to it!…as TB says soooo well…’Stay Tuned Folks…it AIN’T over yet!”

Auburn Guy

December 2nd, 2010
4:31 pm

BAMA dude – it just says that we feel that our school has been and is being unfairly attacked and that we can’t stay silent while that goes on. I’m sure that you would do the same for the school that you love too. I appreciate your point, though, and good luck to your guys in their bowl. I will be pulling for them as I always do when Bama is not playing us.

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
4:34 pm

Auburn Guy

December 2nd, 2010
4:31 pm
BAMA dude – it just says that we feel that our school has been and is being unfairly attacked and that we can’t stay silent while that goes on.

I guess, though I really don’t see it that way. Aubies shouldn’t be mad at anybody but Cecil Newton at this point.

JPTigers

December 2nd, 2010
4:35 pm

Love how Bama Dude keeps calling me “illiterate, mental midget, etc.” That’s his way of saying he lost the argument & he’s so exasperated that he’ll simply resort to name-calling b/c he knows the truth. Maybe If use bigger words and call myself “dude” in my screen name that will make me seem smarter than all the other in-breds that pull for the Tide. LOL at any1 using “Dude’ IN THEIR SCREEN NAME saying I’m stupid. That is called GETTING SERVED!! Was that articulate enough for you Bama Dude? LOL

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
4:36 pm

Totally clueless. It’s really amazing.

TallaDawg

December 2nd, 2010
4:37 pm

The below quote misses the point. Auburn should not be punished as an institution, BUT Cam Newton should be. No sane person actually belives that he did not know what was going on.

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.

Beach Dawg

December 2nd, 2010
4:39 pm

Hey, if Cam say he didn’t know, Cam didn’t know. He has a demonstrated record of being Honest Abe despite stealing a laptop and being caught cheating at UF. Auburn now has both ends of the spectrum — “Bo knows!!” and “Cam didn’t know!!” Great advertising stuff.

Auburn Guy

December 2nd, 2010
4:40 pm

BAMA dude – We’re not real happy with him, I can tell you that. The school is restricting his access and I think that says a lot about how the school feels about him.

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
4:40 pm

TallaDawg

December 2nd, 2010
4:37 pm
The below quote misses the point. Auburn should not be punished as an institution, BUT Cam Newton should be. No sane person actually belives that he did not know what was going on.

I think most reasonable people would assume he knew, but that doesn’t mean there’s proof to override his word.

HeHateMe

December 2nd, 2010
4:43 pm

Bull Poopee College Football Boy!! Put down the NCAA HOMER BANNER and back away Tony. That is such a load of crap…perhaps you should go listen to comments made by Pat Hayden and see what you were missing when EVERYONE else in the country is told that the Daddy is the Kid…no seperation of person or representation. IF Bama had won Newton would so be sitting right now…take that to the bank or smoke it TB. Man you usually are straight up but I guess you like having a Heisman vote or some other NCAA sponsored title or accessory.

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
4:45 pm

Auburn Guy

December 2nd, 2010
4:40 pm
BAMA dude – We’re not real happy with him, I can tell you that. The school is restricting his access and I think that says a lot about how the school feels about him.

That just it. Everybody is jumping on the reporters for doing their jobs. The fact is that the allegations were absolutely true as ESPN initially reported them. From the very beginning they said that Cam’s recruitment to Auburn wasn’t being investigated, but his recruitment to MSU was. Turns out that Kenny and Cecil were in fact cooking up a PFP scheme, but supposedly Cam didn’t know about it. Bottom line is that there was a story here and they nailed it.

junkyarddawg

December 2nd, 2010
5:12 pm

Everbody cool your jets or your gonna screw up this big payday the SEC is about to get. Once the check from the National Championship game is cashed and shares are distributed among the SEC teams, THEN it will come out and he’ll be declared ineligible. AU will have to give back the trophy, he have to give back the Heisman but SEC will get to keep the money. It’s all about the money!

LawDawg

December 2nd, 2010
5:16 pm

Tony, you just summed this up amazingly. Love it.

Alabama1972

December 2nd, 2010
5:19 pm

I have a lot of respect for you Barnhart. You are probably the best college sports writer in the South and one of the best in the nation. But you are just dead wrong here. Several commenters have provided the reasons and they are so right.

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
5:21 pm

Alabama1972, I disagree. I think the NCAA acted appropriately based on what they have in front of them.

BAMABOY

December 2nd, 2010
5:25 pm

Im still trying to figure out how dez bryant gets suspended for a year and all he did was lie (he actually broke no rules) but Cam gets off??? and yes im a Bama fan but I think Cam is the best player iv seen in years, I dont blame him or his dad for getting what they deserve but I HATE the NCAA cause they care about money and hide behind this “we do whats best for the student athlete” crap

virginia dog

December 2nd, 2010
5:35 pm

WHAT ????????????

YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME !!!!

BOYS … GET YOUR CHECK BOOKS OUT. THE SHERIFF IS DEAD!!!!!

De Nile

December 2nd, 2010
5:39 pm

I’m certainly accustomed to a better class of clientèle. I’ll be glad when this is finally resolved and these Lee County inbreds get out of me!

Sam

December 2nd, 2010
5:44 pm

You definitely don’t get it. When he solicited money he, as the father, immediately put his son in jeopardy. Slime just worked his friends at the NCAA to keep the SEC’s top team in the battle for the crystal ball. He is always pulling strings to keep his top team or teams in the battle for a national championship. Other SEC teams get bad officiating in some games so as to keep the power team in control.