CamDate - 26 November, 2010
Ever since the Thursday before the Georgia v. Auburn game on November 13th, questions regarding Cam Newton’s eligibility have swirled about building to a frenzied crescendo when Cam boarded the bus on Friday the 12th to travel with the team during their normal pre-home game rituals and meetings. Speculation on whether Cam would play or not was 1st questioned when Auburn University’s coaching staff, Athletic Dept., and Board of Trustees changed their cries of “witch-hunt” “hatchet job” and “1,000 percent innocent” to an abrupt “no comment.” Cam sightings broadcasted across every sports and news channels on game-day Saturday fed the media machine until he walked the field before pre-game warm ups. This latest “OJ driving through Westwood, Ca.” was fueled by speculation surrounding the 180-degree change in Auburn’s modus operandi, not coincidentally just 48 hours after FBI and NCAA interviews held with John Bond, Kenny Rodgers, Bill Bell, and Jodi Wright. Cam did play and play well. Auburn beat Georgia keeping their unbeaten record for 2010 intact, while securing the SEC Western Division title.
On November 20, 2010, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive issued an 8 game suspension to University of Tennessee head basketball coach Bruce Pearl for “violations of conference rules and procedures” relating to the recruitment of prospective players. This suspension was for 8 SEC conference games, and mutually exclusive from anything related to the ongoing NCAA investigation involving the alleged violations. The suspension was based on new rules and authorities granted the Commissioner and SEC during the Spring, 2010 meetings expanding the ability to issue sanctions when the integrity of competition and the League is compromised. In considering a punishment, Slive asserted a phrase that will become more important as the Newton case continues to evolve.
"We wanted to be certain that we understood the established facts before we considered what action, if any, the conference should take." – Mike Slive, SEC Commissioner
Slive distinguished the SEC's punishment of Pearl from its inaction on Newton based on the presence of "established facts" in the case of Pearl and the lack of such facts in the Newton investigation as it stood at the time of Pearl’s suspension. Asked whether he thought about waiting for the NCAA to issue its findings before acting, Slive replied,
"I did think about it. I thought about it for a long time. But we had established facts here. ... I thought it was important for our conference to do something rather than just to wait for the NCAA and do something on top of that."
Slive went on to acknowledge the process by which he tries to make a reasoned decision in the frenzied modern media environment.
"I try to be deliberate," Slive said. "I think sometimes to the frustration of others, but I think we have an obligation to act on established facts."
This suspension opened a whole new deliberation as to whether Cam would in fact be able to participate any further. This is an article released November 12th by CBS Sports.com surrounding the allegations regarding Cecil Newton and Mississippi State. While it's still too early to say with absolute certainty whether Newton will even be playing for Auburn tomorrow, much less at any point for the rest of the season, the actual nature of his misdeeds -- which are, at this point, purely alleged and based solely on the statements of a handful of Mississippi State-affiliated men -- seems to be less of a mystery today than it was earlier this week.
According to Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta, Cecil Newton has reportedly admitted to soliciting money from Mississippi State. Cecil Newton's alleged admission -- which comes without so much as a direct quote from Newton -- is apparently worded in a fashion that attempts to absolve all other parties of blame:
A source close to the situation exclusively told Channel 2 Action News investigative reporter Mark Winne that the player's father, Cecil Newton, has admitted having conversations with an ex-Mississippi State University player about the possibility of under-the-table money if Cam Newton signed to play football at Mississippi State, though he's steadfastly maintained that no money ever changed hands and said no official at Mississippi State ever made such an offer.
According to Winne’s source, Cecil Newton said his son’s hands are clean, and has made it clear that Cam Newton himself and his mother knew nothing about the money discussions, nor did Auburn University, with whom the Westlake High School grad from College Park eventually signed with out of junior college.”
Cecil Admits to Asking MSU to P4P
The problem that Cam Newton faces is that his father's reported admission, while certainly nice-sounding, might not preserve Cam's eligibility; Mississippi State was led to believe that it would need to pay for Cam to play there. That in and of itself is not only a SEC violation, but also a NCAA violation.
From the SEC Constitution:
14.01.3.2 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.
From NCAA Bylaws (amended October 27th, 2006)
14.01.3 Compliance with Other NCAA and Conference Legislation.
To be eligible to represent an institution in intercollegiate athletics competition, a student-athlete shall be in compliance with all applicable provisions of the constitution and bylaws of the Association and all rules and regulations of the institution and the conference(s), if any, of which the institution is a member. A violation of this bylaw that relates only to a violation of a conference rule shall be considered an institutional violation per Constitution 2.8.1; however, such a violation shall not affect the student-athlete’s eligibility. Specific attention is called to legislation affecting eligibility in the following areas.
• There are the original allegations by Bond, Mullin, and MSU of the Pay-For-Play demands by Cecil Newton, thru both himself and Kenny Rodgers.
• There were interviews held by the FBA and NCAA regarding this so called Pay-For-Play Scheme.
• According to WSB-TV2 in Atlanta, Ga., Cecil Newton admits to the request made to MSU, but asserts neither Auburn, Cam, or Cam’s mother knew about it.
• Slive and SEC suspend BPearl for 8 games while NCAA investigation still underway, for “substantiated and established evidence” of wrong-doing on the part of Pearl regarding recruiting violations, a direct violation of the rules and charter governing the Southeastern Conference.