War TMFW: Cam Newton, the NCAA and denying TCU a shot at glory

December 1, 2010

BDA’s Deputy Field Marshall for Sports (Collegiate Division) Arthur Paul Bowen (otherwise known as The Moving Finger Writes) has something to say about the NCAA and its mysterious ways. I may have my own thoughts on this after the whiskey kicks in:

One of the things I say about being a sports fan is that it is one area of human endeavor in which just when you think you have seen it all, something else comes along that completely surprises you. In this case, it is the lightning fast determination that Cam Newton is indeed eligible to play in both the SEC Conference championship game and the BCS title game should Auburn beat South Carolina next Saturday. NCAA investigations typically take forever, primarily due to the rather small enforcement staff and the lack of subpoena power. The Reggie Bush investigation took 4 years. The North Carolina investigation is still ongoing. As far as we know, any investigation the NCAA did on the Cam Newton situation took less than a year. That’s unheard of.

And boy did they have to go through a circuitous route to get there. According to ESPN, here is what went down: On Monday the NCAA notified Auburn that a violation of Newton’s amateur status had occurred, namely the solicitation of money from Mississippi State by an individual allegedly acting on behalf of Cecil Newton, Cam’s father, as a condition of Cam’s suiting up for the Bulldogs. Auburn then declared Cam ineligible and applied for reinstatement. Which the NCAA granted.

Cam Newton

According to the statement issued by the NCAA, “Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone at Auburn was aware of this activity (on the part of the father) which led to his reinstatement (emphasis supplied).”

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

Obviously, I see the hands of the lawyers involved in this, being one myself. And, as I like to say at times like these is this: All we know is what we know.

And all we know is this. Cecil Newton tried to shake Mississippi State down and Mississippi State refused to pay. And we may infer that nobody at Auburn University was aware of the prior dealings with Mississippi State and that nobody employed by it was solicited or paid Cecil Newton based on the information the NCAA knows at this time. But did Cecil Newton approach one of Auburn’s boosters? That we don’t know.

I mean, come on. If Rev. Newton is willing to pimp his child out to one school is it believable that he didn’t approach others? It’s not like Auburn doesn’t have a record in this area. Or Alabama either for that matter.

Secondly, how could Cam Newton not know about this? I mean, I suppose it is theoretically possible. But it is not very likely. And in any event, the NCAA obviously feels it doesn’t have enough proof at this time-those all important words-not to reinstate him.

But what does it matter what Cam did or didn’t know? According to Section 14 of the SEC By-laws, if a student athlete or any member of his family receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or assistance beyond what is authorized, the student athlete is ineligible. The problem here is that Mississippi State didn’t pay Cecil Newton’s representative any money. And I don’t think offering up Cam in exchange for money constitutes “an agreement to receive” an illegal payment.

Still, the By-laws also give Mike Slive the authority to render ineligible any student-athlete that is involved in activities that violate the rules or spirit of the rules governing the recruiting process. But the NCAA has ruled that Cam Newton had no knowledge that his father was pimping him out. So he wasn’t involved based on information the NCAA has at this time. I don’t think Slive can do anything to Cam without being sued.

So why did the NCAA step in at this time? I think it is because it didn’t want the BCS Championship game to take place under a cloud of suspicion. Further, it knows full damn well that an Auburn team without Cam Newton is not the same one that went undefeated in the SEC. They rule Cam ineligible at this time and Auburn fans don’t travel to Arizona for the title game. Sponsors bail and TV ratings go through the floor.

NCM: ON the other hand, does anybody really believe that if Auburn was mopping up after a mediocre season instead of looking at a possible national championship and a possible Heisman Award winner that Newton would still be eligible? I wonder if the NCAA might have acted differently if some other “power” team, say, Ohio State or Nebraska, were occupying the third spot that the interloping Texas Christian University now holds.

Everybody has got too much invested to go straight now. And so the lawyers worked it out.

But don’t think this has gone away. It’s just gone away for now. And by the time this sh*tstorm resurfaces, Cam will be in the NFL.

Have fun while it lasts Tiger fans!


11 Comments

  • Comment by donmccrmck — Dec 2,2010 at 10:52 am

    There is suspicion aplenty to go around, of course, but the story’s a little more complicated than people are recounting now. After playing for two years for Florida, Cam didn’t become eligible to transfer to another Division IA school until he received his junior college degree. The November SI story on him made clear that he was still considering several options, including both Mississippi State and Auburn, while he played for and got a degree from Blenin Junior College, and that his father was still encouraging him to go to Mississippi State. When he got his degree, he decided on Auburn despite his father’s preferences.

    Mississippi State alerted NCAA that the Rev. Cecil Newton had come calling with his hand out sometime before last July, because July is when the NCAA notified Auburn and Newton that there was an investigation. That Miss. State waited until, oh, say, the beginning of spring practice, to bring these charges to the attention of the NCAA suggests, to me anyway, that had Cam opted for Mississippi State all would have been forgiven.

    The NCAA has been investigating all of this since last July. The reason for the brouhaha in November was not any development in the NCAA’s investigation, but the Mississippi State people going public with it, which happened shortly after, perhaps coincidentally, the glowing Sports Illustrated piece on Cam The NCAA has been plodding along at its usual pace since last summer.

    What’s surprising to me about all of this is that anybody would do anything while the FBI was sniffing around.

  • Comment by Philip Martin — Dec 2,2010 at 11:13 am

    I’d like to make it clear that I have no personal animus against Cam Newton, and don’t even think it would have been morally wrong for him to offer his services to the highest bidder. I certainly don’t recognize the NCAA as having any moral authority in these matters, and I’d prefer to see college sports operated along the lines of the Olympic model.

    I don’t think schools — or boosters — ought to directly pay athletes to perform (though I wouldn’t object to them having a little walking around money) for reasons of competitive balance I have no problem with athletes otherwise trading on their celebrity by cutting whatever REASONABLE business deals they can with whatever businesses wish to hire them. For instance, Cam Newton could sign all the endorsement contracts he could attract. He could make special appaearances. He could sell autographed jerseys.

    It seems obvious to me that the idea of amateurish as lip-serviced by the NCAA is a arachaic, unworkable idea and that the NCAA is more interested in perserving the BCS structure as it stands than dealing fairly with indivicual athletes. In the Reggie Bush case we were more or less told that the sins of the parents were indivisible from those of the child; now Cam’s word that he didn’t know what Cecil was up to is enough to keep him on the field? (I’m not saying it shouldn’t be; but the logic doesn’t hold.)

    Obviously it’s in Auburn’s interest to keep Newton eligible through the BCS Championship game even if it turnes out they’ll have to vacate the season a couple fo years from now. There’s lot of money on the table.

    And it’s also in the NCAA’s interest to keep a team like TCU from crashing the BCS party. I don’t think they could go undefeated through an SEC schedule either, but I don’t KNOW that they’re not worthy of playing for the title.

  • Comment by Uncleredeye — Dec 2,2010 at 12:31 pm

    Sports. As interesting and convoluted as politics without the existential Angst.

  • Comment by tmfw — Dec 2,2010 at 12:51 pm

    As I told PM this morning is that this kinda stuff goes on all the time in basketball. The coaches look the other way while boosters pay the middleman. The NCAA’s bending over backwards to help keep Cam eligible may have started a precedent that may bite them on the ass as PM has alluded to. Just make sure that the kid is insulated from the deal and he can stay eligible. The reason that Bush was found ineligible was that he knew about the $ going to his parents and he got some himself. That and I believe he signed with an agent while at USC. The Cam situation, if he is to be believed that is, is different at least on paper and until they can prove otherwise, which I predict they eventually will.

    If the NCAA wants to take steps to end this practice it will amend Section 14 of the By-laws to make the student-athlete ineligible if a family member or representative makes an extortionate demand on a school without regard to whether the kid has actual knowledge of said demand. But I predict they will never do that b/c then more basketball players will opt for Europe or the NBA straight out of high school rather than hang around for a year in college before jumping.

  • Comment by donmccrmck — Dec 2,2010 at 1:59 pm

    To me the distinction between Newton and Bush (and all those Tarheels)is that none of the Newtons actually got anything

    I don’t know what a workable system for getting money to athletes would look like, but the current system seems to leave a bad taste in everyones’ mouths–fans, athletes, coaches, administrators and journalists alike..

  • Comment by donmccrmck — Dec 2,2010 at 4:37 pm

    Here’s a link to Slive’s explanation of why he decided as he did: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fg%2Fa%2F2010%2F12%2F02%2Ffanhouseseccommissionermikes.DTL

  • Comment by tmfw — Dec 2,2010 at 5:46 pm

    Interesting. Cannot fault his decision making process if they truly can’t prove what Cam knew. But I was interested to note that Slive recognizes the big can of worms that this case has opened and how they are going to have to pass new laws to close the loophole created by this fucked up situation.

  • Comment by DLindsay — Dec 2,2010 at 6:54 pm

    I was raised in Alabama, and I’m a pretty rabid Auburn fan by most people’s standards (in Alabama I’m considered a little weird, because while I really want AU to win the Iron Bowl each year, I don’t think life is over if they don’t). I’m a little biased, so take my comments and opinions for what they’re worth.

    What’s bothered me most is this: From the moment the first allegation was made public about a month ago, so many people began talking about how guilty Newton and Auburn were. No one knew anything, accept the people who may or may not have done anything. The NCAA didn’t know; that’s why they continued an investigation that began almost a year ago (I think it’s odd that because the USC/Bush investigation took four years and the Newton investigation took less than a year, many people assume there must be something wrong with the NEWTON investigation. Four years to find out whether or not Bush and his family got anything? Really?). It’s one thing for fans of other schools, bloggers and others to make such comments, but there were so many “journalists” and organizations like ESPN and the New York Times who played this story in supposedly straight news stories as if Newton and Auburn had already been found guilty. Auburn for what it’s worth, was never under investigation, there was a question about a player’s eligibility. It’s just sad.

    There are a lot of hinky things about this whole story, from start to finish. But every accusation is not a conviction, and, as much as I love Auburn and college football, I can be as cynical as anyone about the whole college sports process (I played football in high school with against about thirty guys who played college football. Three of my high school teammates made it to the NFL. I know a couple of guys I’m pretty sure got something from their respective universities). But I think it says a lot about our society that so many “responsible” people assumed there was and proclaimed there was guilt. And it’s just as sad that so many people seem to hope there will be more to this down the road. Anyway.

    Thought the following might make interesting reading.
    http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2010/12/ncaa_president_says_cam_newton.html

  • Comment by DLindsay — Dec 2,2010 at 6:58 pm

    Please forgive any typos in my previous post. Due to some work things I haven’t had a lot of sleep as I write all this. Hope you can tell what I was TRYING to say.

  • Comment by Philip Martin — Dec 2,2010 at 8:36 pm

    Thanks David. And please — you’re very cool with us.

  • Comment by blind willie mctell — Dec 3,2010 at 5:00 pm

    “… as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns–the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” I think the Donald said that.

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