Cam Newton Controversy
It's a done deal, Cam Newton will win the Heisman Trophy tonight. [That's old news now.] And, he should for what he's done on the field. But, it's amazing that his dad won't be there and Cam will likely not be taking questions from the media; certainly won't be talking about what he knew about his dad soliciting cash for his recruitment. Crazy!
Thanks to Leigh Ann Simpson for the photo of Cam Newton leading his team out of the tunnel and Victorie for the photo of Cam Newton running the ball.
Why the NCAA felt compelled to whitewash the Cam Newton Controversy and why it may force much needed changes in college football recruiting.
I just spent a ton of time researching the latest about the Cam Newton scandal. This is a big story with legs that well be hearing more about for the next year at least. It has the potential to become the scandal that rocks the world of college football and changes it forever. Maybe.
At this point, it is still in the early stages of investigation and so many facts are unclear. But, Ill summarize as best I can which facts I believe are now apparent and which are unresolved.
First, Cameron Newton, from Atlanta, Georgia was recruited by the Florida Gators in 2007. He played for them in 2007 and 2008, though sparingly as he was the backup for the Gators Heisman Trophy quarterback, Tim Tebow. When Tebow decided to return for his senior season in 2009, Cam opted to leave and play Junior College Ball at Blinn College.
It should also be noted that while at Florida, Cam was arrested for allegedly stealing a laptop. This incident was resolved with pretrial probation and no conviction. Then there were also three allegations of cheating while at Florida. Cam was facing a Student Conduct Committee hearing over that when he transferred to Blinn.
In the fall of 2009, Newton became the nations top Junior College football recruit while dominating the games and leading Blinn to a JUCO National Title. There is also evidence that Cam Newton also matured as a man during his time at Blinn and grew up as much off the field as on it.
Newton was recruited by Auburn, Mississippi State and Oklahoma in the fall of 2009. Apparently, Newtons first choice was Mississippi State because his Offensive Coordinator at Florida (Dan Mullen) had become the Bulldogs head coach.
And, heres where the fun really begins.
There seems no doubt that Cam Newtons father, Cecil Newton, worked with the owner of a scouting service (Kenny Rogers) who was a former Mississippi State player to solicit cash for Cams commitment to play football at MSU. The NCAA and Auburn University have apparently agreed that those are the facts.
It appears that Kenny Rogers communicated to someone close to the Miss. State football program (perhaps an informal recruiter) that Cecil Newton wanted between $120,000 and $180,000 for his son to sign with the Bulldogs. This apparently was reported by MSU to the SEC in January 2010.
NCAA rules (Bylaw 12.3.3) do not allow individuals or entities to represent a prospective student-athlete for compensation to a school for an athletic scholarship. The SEC also has a similar rule. So, those rules were clearly violated.
Due to this rules violation, the NCAA on Tuesday (Nov. 30) ruled Cam Newton ineligible to play for Auburn. However, Auburn petitioned the NCAA for reinstatement and, low and behold, the NCAA reinstated him the very next day saying it had no evidence at this time that Cam or Auburn knew anything at all about any pay to play scheme Cecil may have concocted. The NCAA also noted that no actual money had changed hands between Miss. State and Cecil Newton. Obviously, the NCAA also has no evidence that Auburn did anything at all wrong at this time.
There have been obvious comparisons to the recent Reggie Bush scandal and charges of NCAA hypocrisy in coming down hard on Bush and not on Newton. There are reasons (maybe good reasons) for this discussed more at The Cam Newton Exception.
However, this thing is not over. There is much, much more to it. The FBI is involved now, because, apparently during an unrelated gambling investigation, it may have stumbled on evidence of an Auburn booster providing cash to Auburn players and there is speculation that perhaps this same booster similarly provided cash to Cecil Newton prior to Cam signing with Auburn. It appears the method this booster (Milton McGregor) used to pass the cash may have been through rigging slot machines so that the Auburn recruits (and maybe a Newton family member) won big while gambling in his facility.
Oh, and by the way, Cecil Newton is the "Bishop" of at least one church in Atlanta (it may be as many as five). In any event, one of those churches was to be demolished by the city because it was so dilapidated. However, it appears the church mysteriously raised the money to fix it up after National Signing Day this past year.
You can read more about this in the discussion at Cam Newton, Bishop Newton, the Church, Gambling and the FBI.
There is also a smoking gun potentially out there as allegedly Cam Newton told a Miss. State recruiter (maybe Judy Mullen) that he was sorry he couldnt go to MSU, but that he had to go to Auburn because the money was too much.
There are also statements made by Cam Newton (maybe to Sports Illustrated) that his father made the decision that Cam would attend Auburn. Cecil also allegedly said that this time more than a scholarship would be required to get Cam.
So, given the chain of events it doesnt seem reasonable the Cecil would say he needed up to 180k for Cam to attend MSU and then suddenly send his boy off to Auburn for nothing at all. That doesnt seem very likely.
Well, that summarizes what we know so far. What does it all mean?
For starters its clear that Auburn, the SEC and the NCAA have a conflict of interest. They are supposed to fairly and impartially investigate this mess yet, if they were to rule Cam Newton ineligible that would knock him out of the Heisman race and probably Auburn out of National Championship contention. Thats a lot of money for Auburn and the SEC. And, it would be a big black mark for them as well as the NCAA.
So, its in everyones interest to just make this thing go away if possible. Of course it may not be possible long term to make it all go away. However, the damage to all concerned is much less if we have another Reggie Bush situation where years down the road Cam is asked to return his Heisman Trophy and Auburn is stripped of its wins this year in the record books. Thats much less damaging then it would be to declare Cam Newton ineligible now on the precipice of a Heisman Trophy and National Championship.
And, to be fair, no one currently has clear evidence that either Cam Newton or Auburn did anything wrong in this scandal. That evidence may come. But, now, the week prior to the SEC Championship Game no one has it.
By the way, I wondered why the NCAA hadnt questioned Cam directly about his alleged statement that the money was too much to turn down Auburn. Well, apparently the NCAA has no subpoena power and so it cant force him to talk. Now could he talk voluntarily? I suppose. Could the NCAA say, you dont have to talk, but if you wont, then youll remain ineligible until we complete the investigation. That seems logical.
Did the NCAA or SEC ask him to talk? I doubt it. Why not?
Well, the truth is "the powers that be" in college football dont want to go down this road. What if Cam said:
Heck yea we got a bit of money. And, we should. After all, if I hadnt come to Auburn, there would be no Heisman Trophy or National Championship for Auburn to talk about. How much is that worth to Auburn University? $10 million? $100 million? How much will the NCAA make off my performance on the football field? And, youre telling me that I should stand by while my family struggles financially and my fathers church is destroyed. Come on man, what would you do?
You see, thats the discussion the NCAA and SEC dont want to have with their athletes. Its the issue of who should make the money the players earn?
You can read more about that at Should We Pay College Athletes?
So, maybe what the NCAA did, by turning a bit of a blind eye to the Cam Newton scandal, was actually rough justice. Maybe even if Cam (or his family) did get some money maybe in the big scheme of things its not such a big deal. Maybe its just the cost of doing business in college football today. After all, the alternative is that Cam Newton earns millions for others while his dads church is demolished due to lack of repairs.
Is that right?
This is why I think the Cam Newton Controversy may bring some difficult issues to the forefront and force the NCAA to perhaps adjust its rules. If they dont, well have more and more of these scandals.
Anyone with common sense can see this is the inevitable result of the current situation in college football where big recruits become big players who earn big money for those who can recruit them (coaches, schools, conferences, NCAA). Yet, the recruit gets none of the money. And if the recruit suffers a career-ending injury? Too bad, so sad. Go back to where you came from.
That aint right.
Given the current inherently unjust NCAA recruiting rules, letting Cam Newton play on was more just than the alternative.
But, I bet a lot of the "powers that be" in college football are rooting hard for South Carolina to beat Auburn in the SEC Championship Game Saturday; thereby eliminating the chance for an Auburn vs Oregon BCS Championship Game; maybe Cam's Heisman Trophy; and thus maybe removing this from the front pages. I say, Go Cam and Go Auburn!!
Please share your thoughts below. Im anxious to hear what others think.
What do you think?
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