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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Newton cleared to play for Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. — The NCAA concluded that Cam Newton’s father broke rules by engaging in pay-for-play talks with another school last year. But it also decided the Auburn quarterback did not know about the scheme and is eligible to play when the No. 1 Tigers take on South Carolina in the SEC championship game Saturday.

The NCAA determined Monday that Cecil’s actions during his son’s recruitment to Mississippi State last fall constituted a violation of amateurism rules.

Auburn discreetly ruled Newton ineligible Tuesday, as required when a violation is found, but sought his immediate reinstatement, which was granted Wednesday by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff with no additional penalty.

“”In determining how a violation impacts a student-athlete’s eligibility, we must consider the young person’s responsibility,”” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs.

“”Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement.””

The NCAA release did not officially close the case on Newton, saying reinstatement decisions are independent of the enforcement process and typically are made after facts of the student-athlete’s involvement are determined.

Donald Jackson, a Montgomery-based attorney who specializes in cases regarding NCAA eligibility issues, said on Paul Finebaum’s radio show that he wouldn’t rule out the continuation of the enforcement investigation, but he said it isn’t likely.

“”A lot of the facts and a lot of the issues that would be addressed in the enforcement staff investigation probably have already been addressed during the course of this investigation,”” he said.

Jackson said if the NCAA enforcement staff decides to levy sanctions against Auburn in the future, it “”would essentially be acknowledging the fact that they failed to adequately investigate it the first time.””

While not a definitive end to the saga, it at least temporarily eases concerns of Auburn fans that the Tigers’ national title hopes and Newton’s Heisman Trophy candidacy could be in jeopardy.

“”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,”” Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs said. “”We appreciate the diligence and professionalism of the NCAA and its handling of this matter.””

Mississippi State first reported concerns about Newton’s recruitment to the SEC offices last January.

The NCAA, in conjunction with the schools, looked into the matter this summer, but the story made national headlines in the last month after two Mississippi State boosters publicly said they were approached by ex-teammate Kenny Rogers seeking $100,000 to $180,000 on behalf of Newton’s father.

The NCAA said Wednesday that its enforcement staff and Auburn agreed that Cecil Newton and the owner of a scouting service worked together to “”actively market the student-athlete as part of a pay-for-play scheme in return for Newton’s commitment to play football.””

NCAA Bylaw 12.3.3 prohibits individuals or entities from representing prospective student-athletes in order to gain compensation from a school.

As part of the decision, Auburn has limited the access Newton’s father has to the athletics program. Asked to clarify, Auburn spokesman Kirk Sampson wrote in an e-mail: “”That’s a private matter between Jay Jacobs and Mr. Newton.””

Rogers was not named in the report, but Mississippi State has disassociated itself from him, Rogers’ lawyer, Doug Zeit, confirmed to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.


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