Ladies and gentlemen, this is getting ugly. It’s like a great big pimple, slowly but surely coming to a big, juicy smelly white head.
“The solicitation of cash or benefits by a prospective student-athlete or another individual on his or her behalf is not allowed under NCAA rules,” NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday.
Known runner Kenny Rogers told ESPN Radio in Dallas on Thursday that Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, advised him it would take “anywhere between $100,000 and $180,000” for his son to sign with Mississippi State. Rogers told ESPN Radio he acted on that demand, reaching out to a Mississippi State booster and attempting to facilitate a deal. According to NCAA interpretations, such an action would be a rules violation regardless of whether money exchanged hands or if Newton eventually signed with another school.
Under NCAA guidelines, Newton could be held responsible for any alleged solicitation on the part of Rogers or his father, and determined to be ineligible. According to past precedent, the NCAA’s next step would be to inform Auburn of Newton’s potential ineligibility and recommend he be held out of competition indefinitely. If Auburn were to ignore that recommendation and Newton were eventually be found to be ineligible, the school could be subject to more stringent sanctioning.
Newton, considered the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, has led Auburn to a 10-0 start and the No. 2 ranking in the Bowl Championship Series, the Associated Press and the USA Today polls. The Tigers play host to Georgia on Saturday.
I’m frankly amazed that Auburn hasn’t declared Newton ineligible, or sat him based on questions of his ineligibility. Stuff like this is dreadful for a program that is almost certain to be investigated by the NCAA and wishes to avoid the charge of “lack of institutional control.”
Speculation on Tidefans.com and elsewhere is that Auburn is “all in” with Newton. That means they know that the kid shouldn’t be playing and they are willing to play him and endure the investigation.
That boggles the mind.
There have been a few media outlets that have defended Newton. But given today’s interview of Kenny Rogers, the question comes to mind: “If Cam Newton’s services were for sale to Mississippi State at the bargain basement price of $180,000, were they available to Auburn at no charge?”