Cam Newton, the standout quarterback for the #2 (BCS Standings) team in the nation, Auburn University, and at least one person Newton is associated with, a recruiting agent by the name of Kenny Rogers, are currently under investigation by the NCAA for possible recruiting violations. Cam Newton made headlines again, most notably on ESPN, for reasons other than his prowess on the football field Thursday when news of the NCAA investigation went public. Some are asking why, in the middle of an investigation into his eligibility, he has not been benched.
There are several reasons, foremost of which is that there have been no charges filed against Newton or anyone connected to the scandal. Yet. But that “yet” is a qualifier that includes hard evidence that would tie Cam Newton to any wrongdoing in the matter. Although Newton himself has remained silent about the NCAA investigation, his father told ESPN earlier this week that no improprieties had occurred and if Kenny Rogers had solicited funds in exchange for Cam Newton’s letter of intent, he had done so without the knowledge or approval of Cam and his family.
Cecil Newton, a bishop in Newnan, Georgia, told ESPN that he had been contacted by the NCAA and had voluntarily turned over bank statements and church records to the investigation.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik noted Thursday evening that he couldn’t comment on the NCAA investigation. “But here’s what I can,” he continued, “and I will this say very loud and very clear: Cameron Newton is eligible at Auburn University, period. End of story.”
But it isn’t the end of the story. Just because the NCAA hasn’t accused Cam Newton — or anyone connected to the investigation — does not mean that they will not. The converse is also true.
The Bleacher Report also notes that another thing in Newton’s favor is that the actual investigation has been going on since July. It has also been reported that Auburn University conducted its own investigation into the matter and found nothing amiss.
The investigation stems from allegations by a former Mississippi State quarterback, John Bond, who informed that school’s athletic department in December 2009 that a former teammate (Kenny Rogers) had contacted him and told him that Cam Newton would be willing to play football for Mississippi State — for a price. Bond alleged that Rogers said he was receiving offers of $200,000, but would consider $180,000 because Cam was interested in attending MSU.
The Bleacher Report also notes that Auburn has come out strongly against the allegations, especially those centering around Newton’s involvement. They posit that Auburn’s strong support, backed by Coach Gene Chizik, is a good indicator that there is no evidence linking Auburn and Cam Newton to any wrongdoing.
But that does not necessarily mean that Auburn and Newton have not been complicit in a recruiting violation. Guilty parties as well as innocent fight their accusers, most of the time simply hoping to be taken at their word, hoping that the evidence that ties them to improprieties is never found.
But why hasn’t Cam Newton been benched? The University of North Carolina benched and suspended over a dozen players at the beginning of the 2010 football season when an NCAA investigation began looking into allegations of recruiting violations.
But North Carolina didn’t have a high-profile ballplayer that has been in the national spotlight for the past several weeks. Newton is in the running for the Heisman Trophy, the NCAA’s highest honor. Benching him would not only carry with it the shades of possible culpability but hurt Newton’s chances at winning the award by impacting his individual playing statistics. Without evidence and with the ability to don the cloak of plausible deniability (and/or innocence), Auburn has chosen not to bench their star player while the investigation continues.
And as long as their is no evidence linking Cam Newton to any recruiting improprieties, there is no real reason for Auburn to not let him play.
“Cash sought for Cam Newton,” ESPN.go.com
“Cam Newton NCAA Investigation: 5 Reason To Believe Gene Chizik,” BleacherReport.com