Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Unanswered Questions Still Remain About Auburngate

Newton240 By @NailPhyl

The NCAA has given up on concluded the investigation into not only the recruitment of Cam Newton but also several other issues, according to a recent letter sent to Auburn University last week. Some time has passed and the dust has settled and the fog of disbelief has thinned somewhat. But it still doesn't make any sense why the NCAA closed this investigation after just thirteen months. There are too many unanswered questions that need to be addressed.

In no particular order, here are a few to rattle around in your head:

1. Who was the source for Joe Schad that provided him the direct quote "the money was too much"?

In the article released by Joe Schad on ESPN.com he writes that he was told by a source that Cam Newton called a recruiter for Mississippi State and that source told Schad that an emotional Newton called them on the phone and said he regretted he wouldn't be going to Mississippi State and was going to Auburn because "the money was too much."

Auburn people have tried their hardest to discredit Joe Schad. The truth of the matter is Schad had two direct quotes in the article. The first quote—which turned out to be absolutely true—was Cecil saying it would take "more than a scholarship" to bring his son to Mississippi State. Why was the second quote ignored and not explained? Who is this recruiter and were they even questioned by the NCAA?

Normally I won't link to SportsByBrooks but I really like his theory on who this source is.

A good follow up to this question just so happens to be...

2. Why did ESPN stop working on the story?

Six days before Schad came out with his story Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach released "Cash Sought for Cam Newton" which was the first domino to fall regarding the Cam Newton scandal. Both articles came from ESPN.

Take a minute to look back and analyze something you may have missed. Four people are credited for the information relating to this story. There were FOUR people that included Joe Schad, Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach. A reasonable assumption would be that if four of the most respected journalists that work for ESPN are working on a story, then they were assigned to this story. The editorial staff at ESPN believed the story had legs and wanted to get the information out there.

What happened?

I have a theory. It's a purely speculative theory that ESPN had a change of heart to protect one of their commodities. Instead of dabbling in speculation however, some insight may be gained by looking at the recent news about Forde leaving ESPN to go to Yahoo! sports.

We all know what happened to Bruce Feldman who left ESPN for CBS. I won't get into specifics but you can read the details here. I bring Feldman up because Forde mentions his situation as one of the reasons for his departure and provides a good insight of how ESPN can be sloppy. Feldman flatly states about his situation that ESPN "made such a mess, and then they never cleaned it up." Is this kind of like opening a damming story on a team with National Championship aspirations, which also has a player with a great chance at winning the Heisman, and not finishing it?

According to bigleadsports, it is also being said that Forde "has long been unhappy with what he couldn't report on or look into because of ESPN's many conflicts of interest." That is very interesting if you consider the abrupt halt on a story that would have surely put a stop to the National Championship run of a team that just so happens to be a member of the Southeastern Conference. Considering the messy way ESPN handles situations it wouldn't be hard to imagine that in the beginning they didn't think through the implications this story would have had to one of the teams that is part of the fifteen year, $2 billion deal ESPN made with the SEC on August 25th, 2008. I would definitely consider that a "conflict of interest."

As a side note, Forde and Charles Robinson are now coworkers.

3. Why did just one person from the HBO Four talk to the NCAA?

Specifically, why did Chaz Ramsey not talk to the NCAA? I remember he refused to talk if Auburn's attorneys were present. It seemed the story changed when a report came out that said Ramsey had specified a time between April 18th and April 20th of this year. Whatever came of that?

Apparently Only Gray agreed to be interviewed and the others "refused to cooperate," the NCAA said. So, what does that mean? Because Ramsey refused to talk to the NCAA without the presence of any and all attorneys representing Auburn he refuses to cooperate? Did all of the "80 interviews" conducted by the NCAA have to follow this rule? What about other institutions hit with major sanctions in the past 30 years, did they also afford the same luxury or is this preferential treatment of some kind? If this is true, how much of an influence did Auburn's attorneys have on the investigation and who was actually in charge, the NCAA or Auburn University's legal representative?

4. Has anyone made a request for all communication between Auburn and the NCAA enforcement staff?

Remember the reason open document requests were refused? Because there was an ongoing investigation. So lets see the information now. Was there ever a Notice of Inquiry? If no NOI existed, how in the bloody hell did the NCAA conduct an investigation without ever telling Auburn they were investigating? If one doesn't exist does that mean they made no effort to interview students, coaches or other administration on campus?

5. What about Auburn's institutional control?

What else is going on if the NCAA had nothing to pin on Auburn involving Newton and didn't believe the HBO Four but still felt the need to investigate Auburn's institutional control? It's already been discussed on this blog so I won't hit the whole thing again. However, as said on this site, "there’s no reason to engage in a review of institutional control procedures unless there’s something to suggest that it’s lacking." So why was the NCAA reviewing lack of institutional control if it had zero instances of violations and how did they do this without issuing the NOI?

6. What will the end of the bingo trial bring?

A lot of people have already jumped the gun and said 'I told you so' when talking about this trial. However, the buzz I heard when the end of the trial was nearing was that the end of the trial would result in the release information. That trial isn't finished and has been rescheduled for January 30th of 2012.

I realize this question can't be answered right now. Naysayers love to say it's nothing. I have zero reason to trust them any more than the people claiming that there are links with McGregor and illegal recruiting. I'm legitimately intrigued at what happens, if anything, when this case is over.

This isn't just message board fodder. Around the time the first trial was coming to an end, The Opening Drive on WJOX 94.5 FM in Birmingham, Alabama, which is hosted by Jay Barker, Tony Kurre and Al Del Greco, aired several discussions pertaining to this subject specifically and it is where I initially heard mention of multiple southern schools being involved. They didn't go into details. If you know the show, you know that it isn't based on rumor mongering and this information didn't come in from a caller. If you don't believe me, call them and ask them. They are the only ones I know of that have specifically mentioned the ties between the bingo trial, gambling and sports where a link from the source and someone specifically involved in the trial can be traced.

Insert Paul Finebaum to complete that link.

Follow me on Twitter at @NailPhyl


Thomas said...

I've wondered about Chaz Ramsey. He once had a lawsuit pending against the barn. I remembered that it was dismissed in Alabama but refiled in Mississippi. I wonder if it was conveniently settled for a confidential amount?

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