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

Hiawatha Berry

December 2nd, 2010
7:31 pm

Still no mention of th FBI and their investigation into Auburn boosters, Colonial Bank, et al. Where there is smoke there is fire. Tony, any more scoop on that. I understand from Auburn insiders that they are still squirming over there, and this FBI investigation is far reaching into AU and everyone knows trouble is dead ahead.

jaded equation

December 2nd, 2010
7:37 pm

3rdN8, you sound like you might have had one left for Chesty.

don't pee on my leg...

December 2nd, 2010
7:40 pm

…and tell me it’s raining!

Cam didn’t know what his dad was doing like I don’t know he stole a laptop and cheated on test at UF and had unpaid tickets and….

Really?

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
7:42 pm

William C Smith

December 2nd, 2010
7:25 pm
For those who say Cam Newton had to know about this. Next time a friend of yours tells you his wife or her husband left them for another person.
Tell them they are lying they should have known about the affair.

This isn’t the same thing unless that guy helped his wife decide who to f*ck.

saltmarshdawg

December 2nd, 2010
8:03 pm

Don’t know why, but all of a sudden it hit me that Saint Simons is pretty damn funny…..

Shop till you drop

December 2nd, 2010
8:11 pm

Shopping your kid around is pretty easy, with very little risk. NCAA ruling will encourage more parents to do exactly the same as ecil. Only thing needed to fool NCAA is for the kid to say he knew nothing.
Really, is this the right message for the NCAA to be sending out across the Nation?
What a foolish decision! Slive looks like an idot also.

Johnny Cochran

December 2nd, 2010
8:13 pm

If the glove don’t fit,

sorry, wrong client,

Cam don’t know sh_t, so you must acquit!!

Opie

December 2nd, 2010
8:18 pm

It’s not over. The NCAA is a business with a product to sell, this is it’s busiest time of the year to make money(including the Dance in March), there is no way they are going to tarnish their product in the middle of selling season–it would ruin their future revenue stream–TV, Bowls etc. They are going to let the consumer digest their product on TV and spend their money on BCS bowls and then tell them later–probably in March 2011–that there was a problem. That way they get it both ways they get to sell their product, keep their money, then reclaim their dignity by claiming to clean the “sport” up. If they screamed now they would put a strain on their revenue stream unnecessarily. This is clearly a business decision. If you think it is anything more you are very naive. I very surprised by journalist on this–particularly Bradley and you–You guys think your still covering a sport- its entertainment guys and you are nothing more than reviewers.

Mark this incident, it is the beginning of the decline of NCAA Football as a spectator sport-overexposure, greed, and exploitation- its too bad it has come to this but the money is too big not ruin the ideal– the purity (HA!)of high school athletics is next.

Message to auburn fans

December 2nd, 2010
8:19 pm

This kid and his dad are corrupt. They will ruin yet another ‘perfect season’ for Auburn. Most importantly they will ruin it for the quarterback who did not cheat who could be in Newton’s spot, a team from the West that deserves a shot at the SEC title and who knows how many teams that could be playing for the BCS title game instead of Auburn. Folks have forgotten decency and what it means to compete honestly……shame on them…..shame on us

Cecil Newton

December 2nd, 2010
8:25 pm

Anybody what channel the game comes on this weekend ? Auburn won’t let me come to the game because it would be “improper”. Speaking of improper, did you know about the Auburn family ? They got real good benifits. War Tigers

CrimsonInSuwanee

December 2nd, 2010
8:27 pm

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

And all God’s children said….”Yeah, right”

Ralph Hardie

December 2nd, 2010
8:29 pm

The SEC was made aware by Miss. State of this in December 2009 after Cam committed to Auburn, (well before Cam began his and Auburn’s rise). The section quoted is there so that neither a player, parent, or an institution can feign ignorance of what happened elsewhere, thus keeping the recruiting process the same for everyone; once a recruiting violation like this is verified by the SEC the player is “ineligible for competetion…within the Conference”, not just the reporting school., totally destroying Barnhart’s school A school B scenario’s.

Because of the potential for Auburn now going to a NC game, $live,(an attorney!) cooks up this interpretation that Cam’s father’s soliciting money from MSU for his enrollment but not having proof yet of money passing hands doesn’t yet constitute “agreement to receive”?? Shame on you $live; you’ve had a year to get this taken care of, and now Auburn has an “*” the size of Mars on their forehead and their championship. I have many Auburn fans who hate this, Auburn is a great school and doesn’t have to buy their talent anymore than UGA,Florida,or any other SEC school.

If Auburn wasn’t properly notified by the SEC of the violation, six months before anyone put pads on, then $live should be fired. If they were,(no reason to think they were’nt but I don’t recall any SEC official or $live admitting to it), Auburn and other SEC schools will be marked by this for years. How ironic that Auburn, the last undefeated SEC team to NOT play for the NC would be the school to be involved here. I just hope we won’t be known as the $EC instead of the SEC!

Cecil Newton

December 2nd, 2010
8:42 pm

Ralph Hardie…. You one of them Hardie boys or what ?

We rent players Inc

December 2nd, 2010
8:42 pm

It appears to me that Slive drug his feet all the way until July before he notified the NCAA and maybe Auburn about this matter. Of course he has tap danced his way now around the car wreck with his most sanctimonious comments after the NCAA decision. “That’ll teach em in the future that the SEC is only interested in the flag and mom’s apple ; and in complete transparency- (Strike that last part.)

Kojak

December 2nd, 2010
8:46 pm

Hilarious. Mr. College FB says all this is based on “what its (the NCAA) investigators have determined”.
So I guess that means the NCAA is totally immune to the influence of factors such as MILLIONS of dollars in revenue, political considerations, and sheer emotion….
The naivete is astonishing.

Nick Fairley

December 2nd, 2010
8:53 pm

Glad no one is talking about me anymore. It really hurt my wittle feelings…tha color red makes me sad.

Dale

December 2nd, 2010
8:54 pm

Georgia and its Coach Richt are all scum!!! Ya can’t stand that ya got beat!!! Again!!!! Ya also sould quit worrying about Auburn and Cam and get a freakin defense…had Tech been able to hold onto the ball, ya’ll woulda got beat a sixth time, not to mention the missed extra point…3 turnovers 21points taken from 35 equals 14…Dawgs shoulda got beat by 20 cuz ya couldnt stop th triple option….WDE Georgia sucks and will be way worse after Green’s departure!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We rent players Inc

December 2nd, 2010
8:55 pm

Dale

December 2nd, 2010
8:55 pm

Nick I wish he woulda broke ur QBs neck
Buncha crackers

Nick Fairley

December 2nd, 2010
8:55 pm

Nick Fairley

December 2nd, 2010
8:57 pm

Dale….everything is better on a Ritz?

We rent players Inc

December 2nd, 2010
8:57 pm

Dale Go brush your tooth and do your homework sonny boy. And take your meds.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

December 2nd, 2010
8:57 pm

@NCAA COPS …

Oh trust me, I will enjoy our year in the sun..it occurs every 6 years or so for us…UGA is still living off their 30 year old year in the sun , so I know i can milk a decade or so out of ours..

Nick Fairley

December 2nd, 2010
8:58 pm

How about some whine with your cheese and crackers….

Bill Gates

December 2nd, 2010
8:59 pm

Anybody know where I can get me a decent used laptop (cheap)?

Nick Fairley

December 2nd, 2010
8:59 pm

hey….i’m not a cracker

Nick Fairley

December 2nd, 2010
9:00 pm

I have a cam

We rent players Inc

December 2nd, 2010
9:02 pm

TrishaDishaWarEagle Gonna milk another major NCAA violation for the next decade too? That will make 7- tie you for the all time lead of all college institutions. How proud Auburn must be of it’s penalty record. And we should not think that you might cheat again??? Surely you jest.

Nick Fairley

December 2nd, 2010
9:04 pm

we rent better drink his milk

TrishaDishaWarEagle

December 2nd, 2010
9:05 pm

yeah UGA and Bama have a pedestrian 5 major violations, so I am glad they are lecturing us..btw no violation here on AU’s part ..read the statement by the NCAA..

12-0 wow.. thats better than 6-6 or 9-3, isn’t it? why yes, it is. And we went 13-0 in 2004 (also not a violation year) and 12-0 1993(only violation then was on previous teams not involving those players) so..lets recap..when was UGAs last undefeated season? oh yes..1980…I was negative 6 then.

We rent players Inc

December 2nd, 2010
9:06 pm

Nick Fairley Go plow your back 40

Nick Fairley

December 2nd, 2010
9:08 pm

Naaahhh…..I’d rather bury your QB

We rent players Inc

December 2nd, 2010
9:09 pm

TrishaDishaWarEagle 6 Major violations by Auburn University.6 count em
Only one school with more than that. And Auburn should preach to other school fans about ethics because- why???

TrishaDishaWarEagle

December 2nd, 2010
9:09 pm

If Nick Fairley owned a plow, it would look a lot like Aaron Murray ..he sure did introduce that guy into the dirt a lot..

We rent players Inc

December 2nd, 2010
9:10 pm

I didn’t go to Ga and am not a Ga fan . You Auburn idiots think that everyone who makes comments about your crap over there are from Ga. I wanted you both to lose when you played each other.

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
9:11 pm

TrishaDishaWarEagle

December 2nd, 2010
9:05 pm
yeah UGA and Bama have a pedestrian 5 major violations

Nope. UGA has 6, Bama less than 5. Don’t know the number but we don’t make the “Dirty 29″ list.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

December 2nd, 2010
9:11 pm

Actually the new model plow will look a lot like Garcia..he has a sore shoulder..Mr. Garcia, meet Mr. Fairley…early and often…

Nick Fairley

December 2nd, 2010
9:12 pm

i don’t have a plow but i do have a hoe

TrishaDishaWarEagle

December 2nd, 2010
9:12 pm

ok Bama dude, my appologies on Bama..

We rent players Inc

December 2nd, 2010
9:15 pm

TrishaDishaWarEagle Boy for a school that has not accomplished that much in NCAA college football- you guys sure do have an overly high opinion of yourselves. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile- although Auburn could be the exception to that rule.

Aurburn Fan

December 2nd, 2010
9:17 pm

We won a NC before. It was 1957. My daddy told me. He said we had a special star on that one too.

Chillahill43

December 2nd, 2010
9:19 pm

Just drove thru athens and they threw a uga degree in my window… Oh yea UGA the WAC OF THE SEC. LOL UGA. GOD AWFUL pathetic school pathetic fans. Pathetic coaches . 1980 followed by three decades of superior averageness.. Meow meow…

Aurburn Fan

December 2nd, 2010
9:21 pm

Aurburn is better than Georger. My daddy told me that too. They didn’t even get no special star on there NC.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

December 2nd, 2010
9:21 pm

ahem..

As of 2010, AU Football has had 79 winning seasons, 35 bowl appearances, twenty-four 9+ win seasons, eleven undefeated seasons and ten conference championships. Auburn has played in the Southeastern Conference since its inception in 1933 and has won six SEC Conference Championships; since the divisional realignment of the conference in 1992, Auburn has won the Western Division title six times[2] including three trips to the SEC Championship game.

The College Football Research Center lists Auburn as the 14th best college football program in history,[3] with eight Auburn squads listed in Billingsley’s Top 200 Teams of All Time..

The Associated Press poll statistics show Auburn with the 11th best national record of being ranked in the final AP Poll[7] and 12th overall (ranked 470 times out of 970 polls since the poll began in 1936), with an average ranking of 11.26.[8] Since the Coaches Poll first released a final poll in 1950, Auburn has 25 seasons where the team finished in the top 20 in both the AP and Coaches Polls.[9]

Auburn has the 13th most wins in D-1A college football.[10] In terms of winning percentage, Auburn ranks as the 9th most successful team in the past 25 years with a 71.6% win rate (214–83–5)[11] and 12th over the last 50 years with 63.0% (386–176–10).[12] Of the 93 current I-A football programs that been active since Auburn first fielded a team 116 years ago, Auburn ranks 13th in winning percentage over that period.[13]

yeah, AU has not done much in NCAA football..

Chillahill43

December 2nd, 2010
9:21 pm

Hey we rent players—

yea every year at every school ill bet you a dime you cant name 6 players from the 2006 uga class. They are all rented. 1 year at a time.. Unless they cant play or coach .. Then they are UGA LIFERS..

We rent players Inc

December 2nd, 2010
9:21 pm

You guys can rag on Ga all you want- not my school nor many other SEC fans on here I am sure.

Aurburn Fan

December 2nd, 2010
9:23 pm

See I tole you. Aurburns more better.

Sue Ellen

December 2nd, 2010
9:23 pm

Remember you can’t spell Thuga without UGA! Ben Jones is the master of the Chop Block!

We rent players Inc

December 2nd, 2010
9:23 pm

I could not care less about the Ga players- just like I could not care less about your Aubie players. Especially the paid ones.

panhandlebuzz

December 2nd, 2010
9:24 pm

Mr. Barnhart, you are full of cow manure. This firmly establishes what Alabama, and other schools, have contended, that the NCAA has a selective enforcement policy. I am not an Alabama fan, nor one of the SEC. And, USC, the one on the west coast (which I thoroughly detest) should be up in arms and ready to challenge the legality of its probation ruling. Its all about the money. The NCAA, the SEC, and major college sports are sucking high on the TV money tit.