NCAA: Cam’s Eligible… FOR NOW…

1 Dec

For less than 24 hours this week, the Heisman Trophy frontrunner and quarterback of the No. 1 team in the Bowl Championship Series standings was ineligible to play. But with quick action by the NCAA reinstatement staff, Auburn’s Cam Newton has been cleared for now of allegations he participated with his father in a pay-for-play scheme during his recruitment.

That means unless new evidence comes to light, Newton will be able to play Saturday when the Tigers face South Carolina in the SEC championship game — and in the BCS national championship game if Auburn wins the SEC title.

Newton was declared ineligible on Tuesday by the school after the NCAA concluded a violation of amateurism rules occurred when his father, Cecil Newton, solicited extra benefits from Mississippi State. There’s no evidence that any payments were made.

The NCAA decision reads as follows:

“According to facts of the case agreed upon by Auburn University and the NCAA enforcement staff, the student-athlete’s father and an owner of a scouting service worked together to actively market the student-athlete as a part of a pay-for-play scenario in return for Newton’s commitment to attend college and play football. 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.”

Auburn then applied for Newton’s reinstatement which was granted Wednesday. Under the conditions of the reinstatement, Cecil Newton had his “access” to the Auburn program limited, though there was no explanation of what that means. Former Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers, who has admitted relaying the request for money from Cecil Newton to another former Bulldogs player, was disassociated from his alma mater.

“The conduct of Cam Newton’s father and the involved individual is unacceptable and has no place in the SEC or in intercollegiate athletics,” said Mike Slive, Southeastern Conference Commissioner. “The actions taken by Auburn University and Mississippi State University make it clear this behavior will not be tolerated in the SEC.”

Said Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs:

“We are pleased that the NCAA has agreed with our position that Cam Newton has been and continues to be eligible to play football at Auburn University. We appreciate the diligence and professionalism of the NCAA and its handling of this matter.”

The lawyer for Rogers, however, was not pleased.

“He’s hurt badly by this,” said Doug Zeit. “It’s like sticking a knife in the guy.”

Rogers will contest one assertion made in the letter — that he confirmed to the NCAA that he solicited a payment on the elder Newton’s behalf — the attorney said. “That is false. It’s clearly false. He never solicited. He never confirmed to the NCAA that he ever solicited a payment from anybody,” Zeit said.
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