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

DC

December 2nd, 2010
11:36 am

Murphy, you have to be the only Garcia supporter left in the country…not many USC fans trust the kid…

aubie#1

December 2nd, 2010
11:38 am

Nothing ever involved AU or Cam. So shut up. Our family friend knows Cam from a personal level and she says that all this junk is hocus-pocus.

Greg

December 2nd, 2010
11:38 am

To Renilla, BleedAU, and other Auburn graduates, fans, and supporters, I do appreciate and respect the intelligent discussion on your part rather than the ignorant “War Eagle” retort with “head in the sand.”

Kendall

December 2nd, 2010
11:39 am

I agree with Driving Ms Dooley about Joe Schad. I’ve thought the same thing from the beginning. And WHY does everyone hate Auburn and Cam Newton? I have seen no outrage about LaMichael James choking his girlfriend, pushing her down and being arrested, but Cam whose father happened to hook up with a seedy lowlife like Kenny Rogers has been ripped apart for doing nothing. Where’s the logic in all of this?

GTBob

December 2nd, 2010
11:40 am

It may be the correct ruling but it still seems like an odd one. The NCAA just basically said that if your parents want to try to sell you to a college then its OK as long as you don’t know about it (or pretend not to know). If that is the rule then the rule really needs to change. Dez Bryant got suspended for a whole season for working out with Deion Sanders (and lying about it). It really seems like the NCAA makes up punishments and rules as they go along.

Dirty Dawg

December 2nd, 2010
11:42 am

Yeah Kendall, we’re sorry that Aaron Murray’s sternum hurt that poor little Fairley guy’s shoulder…I mean that could’ve cost you guys the second half of the Alabama game as well. Wouldn’t want to deny you your opportunity to become the biggest story in the history of college football…and years from now when people pass through ‘The Purdiest Village On The Plains’, they’ll ask, ‘what’s that big structure over there?’ and the answer will be, ‘Oh, they used to play football there back when there was a school here’.

Driving Ms Dooley

December 2nd, 2010
11:42 am

@Joey
re: Still trying to figure out how AJ got 4 games suspension for selling his own property to a collecter. What if he had sold his, say, bedsheets to the same guy? Would he still have gotten suspended?

Ok Joey I’ll say this slowly. Yes he would have gotten suspended for selling bedsheets to an agent–or his runner–for $1000.

So many rants in my head for that one, but I will just let that one soak in for minute.

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
11:42 am

GTBob, but it’s not OK if your parents succeed in selling you, whether you know or not. That’s the difference.

The Ole Ball Coach

December 2nd, 2010
11:43 am

Laughable rationale

Danny Chisholm

December 2nd, 2010
11:44 am

This is the most balanced response I’ve read so far about this case. I had been wondering about all the comparison to REggie Bush, and from you have indicated, there is a lot of dissimilarity especially when it comes to the money exchanging hands. I also had not considered the disgruntled recruiter reaction/accusation, so thanks for that input too.

MrKeg

December 2nd, 2010
11:45 am

Two things
1) Is Saint Simons just stupid?
2) We get notification as fans not to talk to recruits that could cause problems for the university, but if dad pimps you out it is ok.

aubie#1

December 2nd, 2010
11:46 am

Ummmm, rule 14.01.3.3 is misquoted, the author acts like you have to agree to receive money, but the rule says if any player/parent receives OR agrees to receive money……….. Just thought that i would point that out. Either way I personally believe that nothing of the sort ever really happened.

Kendall

December 2nd, 2010
11:46 am

Watch the clip Dirty Dawg. You make me laugh.

Joey

December 2nd, 2010
11:48 am

aubie#1,

Did Cam tell your “family friend” about his troubles in UF?

Of course not, just like he won’t tell her how his dad, despite a “meager house and church” showed up for an ESPN interview with Chris Low, Pat Forde and others, driving a new $60,000 truck.

Driving Ms Dooley

December 2nd, 2010
11:49 am

BIG QUESTION FOR OUR RATIONAL READERS: Does pimp daddy go to NYC for the Heisman presentation? The Heisman is in no way related to the NCAA so it can do what it wants.

Cam needs to realize he’s a man now and tell daddy to do the smart thing here. Do the right thing. Stay home and work on your sermon. I’ll take momma and big brother to the big city.

katherine

December 2nd, 2010
11:50 am

The whole thing stinks…and the ncaa and the sec have both lost credibility.

aubie#1

December 2nd, 2010
11:50 am

@ Joey

Actually yes he did tell her.

Auburn's Limo Driver

December 2nd, 2010
11:51 am

Not that you asked for these 200,000 clams Cecil but where do you want them delivered too? You don’t have to say anything just draw me a map or point with your finger. Oooh a better idea put on some gloves and program my Tom-Tom. Just nod yes or no. Okay I don’t understand the googly eyed response to the trunk full of clams.

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
11:54 am

Joey

December 2nd, 2010
11:48 am
aubie#1,

Did Cam tell your “family friend” about his troubles in UF?

Of course not, just like he won’t tell her how his dad, despite a “meager house and church” showed up for an ESPN interview with Chris Low, Pat Forde and others, driving a new $60,000 truck.

See, that’s all conjecture and doesn’t help the circumstance.

JPTigers

December 2nd, 2010
11:55 am

The real scumbag here is Rogers. To quote Lil Nicky, They are nothing more than pimps. They shouldn’t be anywhere near these kids until they graduate and go pro….period. And please don’t kid yourselves and try to act like this only happened to an AU player! It’s a problem at every level, they get to these kids in the 8th grade now even. For all we know Rogers approached Cecil Newton with this scheme & then he got cold feet and backed out. Maybe Momma Newton found out and blew up, WHO KNOWS? The bottom line is no evidence of money changing hands has surfaced whatsoever.

Joey

December 2nd, 2010
11:55 am

Even about the $60,000 truck, aubie#1?

I would like to hear that explanation!

Smokybird

December 2nd, 2010
11:55 am

Tony,
I’ll give you the rule distinction between agree and solicit but the argument about punishing school B for solicitation that happened at school A is misleading. The NCAA would be punishing Newton and not Auburn. Yes, Auburn will not get to play Newton so that is punishment but they won’t have to give back games since they were unaware and took immediate action once they found out, no loss of scholarships, or post-season bans so really the school isn’t getting punished.

Carrington

December 2nd, 2010
11:56 am

Jealousy is the outburst of impassioned feelings over the need to control something or someone else. The emotion of jealousy suggests an exaggerated egoism, A READINESS TO INFER THE WORST CONCERNING ANOTHER, a disposition to interpret trifles ungenerously, TO BEGRUDGE THE SUCCESS OF OTHERS AND FEEL A SECRET SATISFACTION IN THEIR FAILURE.
Jealousy is clearly a destructive emotion and has traditionally been referred to as one of the “seven deadly sins.”
Jealousy has its roots in feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, low self esteem, and a lack of security. A perception that the distribution of power is uneven in a relationship is often the culprit in jealousy.
Jealousy tends to be more prominent in men than in women, particularly if the male desires power, title and position. (Borrowed from another source)
Does this sound familiar to anyone posting here?

Fan of SEC

December 2nd, 2010
11:56 am

I thought that it was stated when Cam called MSU and told them that he was going to be going to Auburn that it was stated something like he expressed regret, saying his father had chosen Auburn for him because “the money was too much.” Sounds like he knew something to me.

Driving Ms Dooley

December 2nd, 2010
11:56 am

The truck had gold wheels.

aubie#1

December 2nd, 2010
11:57 am

@ Joey

Ok then, call Cam (or Cecil) and ask him:P

Carrington

December 2nd, 2010
11:58 am

Fan of SEC…the problem with your comment is that was never confirmed by anyone. It was a rumor.

Ted Striker

December 2nd, 2010
11:58 am

Auburn declares their star player ineligible and doesn’t disclose it. Now that’s shady.

MURPHY

December 2nd, 2010
11:59 am

DC,

Im throwing all my chips into the Carolina basket on Sat! Im all in. Hope I dont eat crow on this one. lol

Joey

December 2nd, 2010
11:59 am

“See, that’s all conjecture and doesn’t help the circumstance.”
*********************************
Sorry, Your Honor, didn’t know I was in court. Thought this was a sports blog . . .

John

December 2nd, 2010
12:00 pm

3rdn8 says
“I don’t know where the money went. I do know a woman who is a reporter for a newspaper in the College Park area …She stated that Mr. Newton showed her the largest organ she’d ever seen inside of a church building.”

I don’t know where the money (if there was any) went either. I do know that’s the funniest post to this blog (in one guy’s humble opinion).

JPTigers

December 2nd, 2010
12:01 pm

The real problem is that the sport I love has been turned into a billion dollar a year money-making machine that spits these kids up and chews em out. No one even goes to College for the education anymore it’s all about the Football team. I’ve seen it firsthand at AU! How hippocritical is it to then turn around & these kids they can’t have none of the pie, it’s all for the suits and the NCAA to divy up amongst themselves. It ain’t right but we all contribute to it. Commercialization of the sport has garnered more exposure but it’s tainting the game now!

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
12:01 pm

It is a sports blog, Joey. It’s NOT a bullchit blog though.

Dink

December 2nd, 2010
12:02 pm

Driving Ms Dooley

December 2nd, 2010
12:02 pm

@Smokeybird.
You make a good point but I’m guessing that the NCAA governs the schools and it’s the schools job to discipline the player. But that’s only a guess. But either way, I think the NCAA’s position is that Cam didn’t break the rules, pimp daddy did without his knowledge.

Honestly, there’s 18 tons of speculation and no real evidence that Cam did anything wrong. I’ve seen many many athletes over the years that were living way above their means. i.e. every one knew that they were taking money. But without proof, a small NCAA investigative staff can’t run down every rumor and come up with proof enough to suspend them.

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
12:02 pm

How hippocritical is it to then turn around & these kids they can’t have none of the pie

Them hungry hungry hippocriticals like them some pie. And marbles.

JPTigers

December 2nd, 2010
12:06 pm

Not to mention we pay the coaches $5 million dollars a year now. What happened to the days when a coach was actually a teacher & an educator too lol. Then these agents prey on kids by offering them anything they want & unfortunately sometimes their parents & relatives are the first ones with their hands out. What a shame, to try to punish a kid for the actions of others. Wouldn’t have been right IMO

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
12:06 pm

Smokybird

December 2nd, 2010
11:55 am
Tony,
I’ll give you the rule distinction between agree and solicit but the argument about punishing school B for solicitation that happened at school A is misleading. The NCAA would be punishing Newton and not Auburn. Yes, Auburn will not get to play Newton so that is punishment but they won’t have to give back games since they were unaware and took immediate action once they found out, noloss of scholarships or post-season bans so really the school isn’t getting punished.

Now it’s accurate. They would absolutely have to vacate wins if he were found ineligible.

Old Timer

December 2nd, 2010
12:07 pm

There’s a a solution for all this:

Sub-divide Division 1 football again.

Put the SEC and Big Ten together where they can pay players, cheat, allow professionals to play, and let kids that can’t read and write play. The conference offices can use their legal resources to defend it and rig as many games as needed to produce an undefeated champion. ESPN and their corporate partners can market it as “The Best College (age) Football”, and media types like Tony, et.al. can continusly defende it.

You know, just like they do today, nothing has to change here.

Then let the remaining NCAA members and college athletes compete on a level playing field.

On second thought, we could accomplish the same thing if all the schools outside of the SEC and Big Ten moved to FCS from FBS.

Big Brother

December 2nd, 2010
12:07 pm

Nice job Mr. Barnhardt, I appreciate your constant and unwavering support of the establishment in good times and bad.

Old School

December 2nd, 2010
12:08 pm

Amazing. The NCAA just made it possible for anyone with a blue-chip prospect to shop that player without fear of real punishment. Football player … hoops player — doesn’t matter. All you have to do is say the kid didn’t have a clue about the sales price and it’s like nothing happened. Plausible deniability.

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
12:11 pm

Old Timer, I have been saying that for awhile. Create a 32 team super conference divided into four divisions and run it with playoffs like the NFL- first and second place in each division make the playoffs. Make it cost the school a big initial investment to join, big enough that only the big programs could afford it. Allow those schools who join to pay players based on the 85 scholarships. Let’s say each school gets 5 “diamond” scholarships where the player gets $50k a year, 15 “gold” scholarships where they get $25k per year, and so on. Then play ball!

5IML

December 2nd, 2010
12:12 pm

Back in 2004, the NCAA realized that Auburn in the championship game would hurt ratings just as TCU would hurt this year’s ratings.

MURPHY

December 2nd, 2010
12:12 pm

Old School,

How long till the NCAA makes up a new rule concerning this situation? Like the rule that we at UGA has established by the NCAA for selling our SEC rings on e-bay?

BAMA dude

December 2nd, 2010
12:12 pm

Old School

December 2nd, 2010
12:08 pm
Amazing. The NCAA just made it possible for anyone with a blue-chip prospect to shop that player without fear of real punishment. Football player … hoops player — doesn’t matter. All you have to do is say the kid didn’t have a clue about the sales price and it’s like nothing happened. Plausible deniability.

As long as no one actually got any money.

Nick Saban

December 2nd, 2010
12:12 pm

I hope dey chang de rooles!!! Cant wate two bye off sum good playerz

aubie#1

December 2nd, 2010
12:17 pm

Nick, lol, you need to learn to spell first. Also try using your real name.

Tony Barnhart =

December 2nd, 2010
12:17 pm

SEC apologist. The question is, how will Tony rationalize it when Oregon beat Auburn with Cam Newton. What excuse will he come up with then?

Driving Ms Dooley

December 2nd, 2010
12:19 pm

One more thing for all you detectives throwin down on Barnhart. He initially went the other way on this thing. Then he gathered facts and ignored unsubstantiated rumors and tried to look at it from the perspective of the NCAA investigators. Just like most rational people would do.

Seriously folks. When you think along those lines, what would you do if you’re the NCAA. Say “We’re pretty darn sure Cam had to have knowledge because of unsubstantiated rumors”. Don’t you think that if there was ANY hard evidence that JOE THE SCAM SCHAD would have presented it by now.

Cam Newton wanted to play for Dan Mullen

December 2nd, 2010
12:19 pm

but he played at Auburn instead. Enquiring minds want to know why.