To the portion of the college football fan base that believes Auburn and Cam Newton got away with something this past season, this probably will come as sweet news: The NCAA is looking into recruiting issues at Auburn again.
According to stories on FoxSports.com and the blog site SportsByBrooks, NCAA investigators were in Thibodaux, La., this week to speak with Auburn recruit Greg Robinson and three others regarding how Robinson (an offensive lineman) and wide receiver Trovon Reed (a 2010 recruit also from Thibodaux) ended up signing with the Tigers.
Part of the investigation appears to be focusing on Sean Nelson, who lives in Thibodaux and was involved in the recruiting process. If Nelson is some sort of street agent and compensation was involved in Auburn landing Robinson and/or Reed, that’s an obvious NCAA violation.
LSU fans aren’t happy about two home grown players leaving the state and suspect something. So, apparently, does the NCAA. The investigation follows a Fox Sports story last month, Nelson claimed he was Reed’s guardian and denied receiving any money. An excerpt from the Fox story in January:
Robinson said that to his knowledge, Nelson never received money from anyone associated with Auburn to take him on unofficial visits there. In a telephone interview Friday, Nelson also denied he was paid by anyone associated with Auburn for bringing Reed and Robinson.
“I don’t care what people think, they can think what they want, but Trovon chose to go Auburn so he went to Auburn,” Nelson said before hanging up.
But [former Thibodaux High School coach Dennis] Lorio, a former LSU graduate assistant, says Auburn’s sudden recruiting success here is curious.
“How did players from Thibodaux, La., become so interested in Auburn?” Lorio asks. “That’s a really good question. Trooper Taylor and Sean Nelson would know.”
Trooper Taylor is an assistant coach at Auburn.
Lorio said he told NCAA investigators he doesn’t know what occurred. But he told Fox Sports in a previous conversation that coaches and students saw Robinson “show off cash and a new iPhone at school after making an unofficial visit to Auburn,” according to the story.
Well, well. All we need is Cecil “Huggy Bear” Newton and the circle of life is complete.
As I’ve written previously, I didn’t have an issue with the NCAA not suspending Newton and Auburn escaping probation because it lacked evidence at the time of the investigation. We don’t convict on suspicions in this country.
But this much seems certain: The NCAA wants to crack down on the practice of players being shopped, that means focusing on the relationship between street agents and football programs.
Fair or unfair, the Newton saga — which isn’t officially closed — elevated Auburn’s visibility, and when a high school player is alleged to suddenly be walking around with extra cash and an iPhone, people will talk.
Welcome to life after a national championship.
By Jeff Schultz