Cam Newton scandal: Finger pointing or legitimate gripe?
December 3rd, 2010
05:02 PM ET

Cam Newton scandal: Finger pointing or legitimate gripe?

The most talked-about college football scandal in years appears to have been resolved — at least for now.

When Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton takes the field for the SEC title game against South Carolina Saturday, he will have been absolved of any wrongdoing by the NCAA in spite of an investigation concluding his father shopped him around to programs asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars for his son’s signature.

And even though the Heisman hopeful has been cleared to play that game and the BCS National Championship should they win—the Tiger’s success won’t tame the talk. Newton’s story has been a hot topic because it speaks to the heart of many who suspect college athletics are corrupt.

For those who don’t know the Newton story, it all started a month ago when stories about a pay-for-play scandal started surfacing involving Newton and his father, the Rev. Cecil Newton. Here’s a recap of how we got here:

In December of 2009, Cam Newton committed to Auburn after taking recruiting trips there and to Mississippi State.

A month later, Mississippi State claimed it contacted SEC officials to notify of them that Cecil Newton and a booster named Kenny Rogers attempted to get money for Cam Newton’s commitment, a solitication MSU officials said was refused. The school waited six months before fulfilling a request from the league office for more information.

In July 2010, the SEC notified Auburn of suspected improper recruitment involving Cecil Newton. Auburn began its own investigation.

In early November, stories surface alleging Cecil attempted to secure about $180,000 from a Mississippi State booster in a pay-for-play scheme. Auburn refused to comment. The NCAA began its own investigation. As the weeks progressed, another former player echoed the allegations. The FBI questioned Rogers.

Monday, the NCAA said "violation of amateurism rules occurred" with Newton.

Tuesday,  Auburn quietly made Newton ineligible without notifying the media.

Wednesday, the NCAA ruled that Newton’s father and an owner of a scouting service did try to get money for Newton’s signature from MSU. But officials said there wasn’t “sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity,” and no evidence surfaced that the Newtons asked for money from Auburn. Newton was ruled eligible to play and reinstated.

The announcement set off a firestorm of criticism from bloggers. Even NBA legend and sports commentator Charles Barkley, an Auburn alum, told the "Dan Patrick Show" on  Thursday the ruling was “shaky.”  "I can't explain it, I can't justify it. I can't defend it," Barkley said.

Others echoed Barkley, saying the NCAA had opened a Pandora’s Box, that from now on any would-be college player could ask a school for money through a middle man and there would be no punishment as long as it couldn’t be proven the athlete was directly involved.

The criticism immediately put the NCAA on the defensive. President Mark Emmert said in a statement Wednesday, "We recognize that many people are outraged at the notion that a parent or anyone else could 'shop around' a student-athlete and there would possibly not be repercussions on the student-athlete's eligibility.” Adding the NCAA will "work aggressively with our members to amend our bylaws so that this type of behavior is not a part of intercollegiate athletics."

Newton's father is not the first to ask for money for a kid's commitment. And he likely won't be the last.

The question is this: Will Newton's discovery encourage more bad apples or will it, through awareness, succeed in changing the landscape of a potentially corrupt culture?

soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Richard Allen

    if the investigation showed no wrong doing by Cam himself, can't really stop him from playing.

    December 3, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jcatl

    Until evidence is found that Cam or Auburn did something that results in Cam receiving extra benefits he should play. The NCAA erred on the side of caution but it doesn't mean that if evidence surfaces that Cam couldn't be declared retroactively ineligible for the 2010 season (meaning Auburn vacates all wins) or that something will turn up that someone paid Cecil on behalf of Auburn. I doubt the athletic department was involved. Too much money is lost when a school goes on probation.

    As an Auburn fan I appreciate CNN trying to get the facts straight in this story as many so-called news outlets have used it as a way to generate web traffic, using shoddy reporting based on what remain anonymous sources.

    December 3, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Vince in CFL

    Fast and loose with facts. More sensationalism at the expense of journalism. First spin; you state the NCAA concluded that "Newton's father shopped him around to programs" when in fact the NCAA only found evidence of an issue at MSU. Newton was recruited by MSU, Auburn, Oklahoma & Arizona. There have been no reports of 'shopping' as you put it by any school other than MSU. That fact doesn't fit your story, so you lie. Nice. Second spin; you portray Cecil Newton as the instigator in all of this. The fact is, both statements by Bill Bell and John Bond say they were contacted about Newton first by Kenny Rogers, an individual with a history of misrepresenting the facts based on numerous independent accounts. There zero evidence as to who hatched the plan whether it was Rogers or the elder Newton. The fact is, it is just as likely this story began with Rogers and ended when he was unable to secure cash for Newton's signing. Since there was no issue at Oklahoma and apparently none at Arizona and no evidence of any wrongdoing at Auburn, it stands to reason that it is more likely that nothing happened at Auburn. If Newton's father was the mastermind why was their no implication of wrongdoing during his initial recruitment? The fact is, all of you hacks want there to be a story. You won't accept the fact that Auburn, with 4 returning seniors on the offensive line, Gus Malzahn as the OC, Mike Dyer as a new recruitment, a stable of excellent wide receivers to throw to and a location only 90 minutes from Newton's home, just might have been the best choice once it became clear that Kenny Roger's promise of big money wasn't going to happen. Way to report the facts. You must belong to the Pete Thamel, Evan Thayer & Joe Schad literary circle. You guys are sad.

    December 3, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      No, actually Cecil shopping him to MSU counts as "shopping him to college programs" since MSU is a college program. It isn't that CNN lies its that you can't interpret facts.

      December 4, 2010 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Grammar Police

      @Josh I assume you failed high school english? 'Shopping around to college programs' would only be accurate if he shopped him to more than one. 'Shopped him to a college program' would be the correct way to say it if he was only shopped to one program. The first way states that there were definitely more than one. That's his point. He is interpreting the facts just fine.

      December 4, 2010 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    The rules clearly state that any action or activity by the player or his family will result in the player being declared inelegible. Pretty cut and dried. According to the rules in effect now and at the time of the allegations, Newton should be inelegible. Besed on the rules, it does not matter whether Newton was personally aware of the activities of his father, so talking about that is pointless. If you don't like the rule, get it changed, but not retroactively to benefit one player.

    December 3, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • B

      the rules actually state that the player would be ineligable to play at that particular school. So even IF some wrong doings occured, Cam Newton would be ineligable to play at MSU... he could technically play anywhere else.. Auburn quietly made Cam Newton ineligable so the NCAA would HAVE to come back and make him eligable.. Auburn did to solitify the fact that they know as does everyone else, except the media and obvious haters, that Newton did not and has not done anything wrong and deserves to play like any other kid.

      December 4, 2010 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. PB4Y2

    This will obviously open the floodgate for prospects parents to ask for money that they won't get from schools their kid won't attend. Now they know they will get off scot-free.

    December 3, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ConservativeLiberal

    Kenny Rogers Roasted Chicken? Mmmmm

    December 3, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. J Assange

    Rachel Dawes, deceased ADA, knew about this. All criminals charged by Harvey Dent (5 time murderer) should be released immediately.

    December 3, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rich Ressel

    What about USC??? Similar situations opposite results. and don't tell me they proved anything about Bush, much less USC's knowledge. MSU and Auburn both knew of infractions but no, zero, none sanctions.
    13 North Carolina players are suspended PENDING AN INVESTIGATION just prior to the LSU game. Why is Newt playing?
    Because the SEC rules – the NCAA
    The NCAA has lost its moral compass and its ethical integrity. It must be dissolved and an organization that objectively acts in the best interests of students. At the very least NCAA should be investigated. Until then ALL sanctions should be lifted from USC

    December 3, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Another_Guy

      The difference between the Cam Newton case and Reggie Bush case is that Reggie Bush knowingly accepted and recieved money while at USC. Cam Newton hasn't been proven to be aware of asking for money, much less recieved any, from the University that he is attending. If it does come out that Auburn did give money to Cam or his father then you can be sure that the NCAA will come down on them pretty hard. Compare facts, not what the media spins.

      December 4, 2010 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. GoCats

    Free Enes!!!!

    December 3, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rich Ressel

    Scam skates?!?! Reverse all the USC sanctions NOW!!!

    December 3, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mark

    Plain and simple, the NCAA didn't want TCU (A non-AQ school) to be in the National Championship game, and that happens if Cam Newton is ineligible.

    December 3, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BigGameJames

    Keep slingin it Cam!! And keep smiling big! When you are on top everybody wants to knock you off! The media let Brett off the hook for the dic pics and HIS wife had breast cancer! They tried to crucify Vick and Tiger. Please break your foot off in the 'future gas station attendants' a$$ this weekend. Signed, NOT a Clemson Fan!!!

    December 3, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Well we can all tell what race you are...

      December 3, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BigGameJames

    Also in a round-about way might this controversy spark a playoff. That is if Mark's post about TCU is correct. Just wondering.

    December 3, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DaBoz

    Newton is playing for one simple reason, he is amazing and probably going to win the Heisman. This is all about branding. The NCAA is going to hang its image on Cam's image. He is the preeminent player in the league. He is the best, far and away, so they need to keep the poop off of him, so that they stay clean by association.

    If he was a 2nd string linebacker, he would have been shown the door a long time ago. If he was at a mediocre program, he would be long gone, but he is a star and on a star team.

    The NCAA is a joke, and will never prosecute this kid or his father "The Reverend" – how ironic?

    December 3, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. WINNAR

    NCAA is like OMG NOES DONT HURT THE SEC 🙁 🙁 🙁 WE NEED MONEYS

    December 3, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
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