The Cam Newton scandal, instead of being a media flash in the pan, seems to be snowballing into a monstrous problem — at least in the public relations department — for the Heisman Trophy candidate and Auburn University. ESPN now reports that two more anonymous sources, both recruiters for Mississippi State University, are corroborating former MSU quarterback John Bond’s allegations of a pay-for-play plan involving Cam Newton and his recruitment at the Mississippi college. But whereas Bond has only named a former teammate and one other undisclosed individual being involved, the latest sources have brought Cam and his father, Cecil, directly into the pay-for-play allegations.
According to ESPN, one recruiter said that, prior to Newton’s commitment to Auburn for the 2010 football season, Cecil allegedly told him that, in order for Cam to play football at Mississippi State, he would need “more than a scholarship.” The recruiter said that he told the elder Newton that neither he nor the school could do that. The source said Cecil Newton also referred him to another person who would have more specifics on Cam’s requirements.
The second source said that Cam Newton had called him to express regret about his commitment to Auburn over Mississippi State. The source, also a recruiter, said Newton was emotional, but that his father had chosen Auburn because “the money was too much.”
Both allegations were passed on to Mississippi State compliance officials, who relayed them to the SouthEast Conference in January.
Cecil Newton has stated from the outset of the scandal that he and his son were not involved in any improprieties. He admitted to ESPN that the NCAA investigation had reached out to him and requested tax information regarding himself and his church (although Cecil’s construction business was not mentioned). Cam has denied the allegations and refused to talk about them.
Cecil Newton told FoxSports.com that the allegations were nothing but a “witch hunt” and that he would continue to support his son. He refused to confirm or deny any of the allegations during the interview.
News that an NCAA investigation involving the 2010 Heisman Trophy hopeful surfaced last week when former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond’s allegations that a recruiting violation had taken place in 2009 when a former teammate, Kenny Rogers, had approached him with an offer for Newton, then a junior college standout at Blinn College in Texas, to play at MSU — for money. According to Bond, Rogers said Newton was asking for $200,000 but would settle for $180,000 from Mississippi State because he actually liked the college. Bond informed MSU’s athletic department, which later passed the allegations on to the SEC.
The NCAA refuses to disclose any information about the investigation.
In addition to the new allegations of recruitment violations, potentially humiliating reports about Cam Newton’s attendance at the University of Florida, where he was a back-up to all-star Tim Tebow, have surfaced. Along with an arrest for allegedly stealing a laptop computer in 2008, allegations that he cheated on a class paper have gone public. He was suspended from the Florida Gators football squad after his arrest and reportedly faced academic expulsion for violating the student honor code for the alleged cheating incident, which, according to Fox Sports, was not a single occurrence but three separate offenses.
The continuing NCAA investigation has as yet not interfered with Cam Newton’s playing eligibility, and Auburn University has been quick to show support, not to mention noting that their own internal investigation found no improprieties. But the lingering investigation could play a significant role in whether or not Newton wins the Heisman Trophy. And even though the NCAA has not brought charges to bear, they have not exonerated Cam Newton, his father, Kenny Rogers, Auburn University, Mississippi State or any other entity or particular that might be involved. And that possibility of continued scandal, of the snowball building into an avalanche, could cost Newton votes in the Heisman balloting.
It all appears to be hearsay from the public’s side of the investigation. But what appears to be hearsay might be not only corroborated but substantiated from the NCAA’s perspective. Either way, Cam Newton may not be involved at all. But more and more sources are saying that he was. In the end, the issue will hopefully be resolved where the parties meet with fair consequences for their actions — be they guilty or innocent.
“Sources: Newtons talked of pay plan,” ESPN.go.com
“Report: Newton, father sought money,” FoxSports.com