Focus on Georgia
Report: Newtons talked pay-to-play
AUBURN, Ala. — ESPN reported on its website last night that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and his father each had a phone conversation with a Mississippi State recruiter that acknowledged a pay-to-play arrangement.
One of the recruiters said Cecil Newton told him before Cam Newton committed to Auburn that it would take “more than a scholarship’’ for his son to attend Mississippi State. An unidentified source told ESPN that another recruiter received a phone call from an emotional Cam Newton after he committed to the Tigers, when he said his father selected Auburn for him because “the money was too much.’’
ESPN, citing two other unidentified sources close to the program, also reported that Mississippi State compliance officials relayed the alleged conversations to the Southeastern Conference in January. The NCAA is reviewing the recruitment of Newton, a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.
Earlier in the day, Auburn found itself defending Newton for the second time in five days, this time sticking up for the quarterback in the wake of allegations of academic cheating when he was at Florida.
The second-ranked Tigers’ coach Gene Chizik dismissed that report as “pure garbage’’ in a 4-minute-25-second rant.
“I’m standing up here on a very important week trying to defend something that’s garbage,’’ Chizik said. The Tigers face rival Georgia Saturday.
Foxsports.com reported Monday that Newton was caught cheating three times and was to appear for a hearing in front of Florida’s Student Committee facing possible expulsion during the spring semester of 2009.
Newton transferred to Blinn Junior College, where he played last season. He declined to discuss the academic report, which came on the heels of former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond saying someone claiming to represent the Newton family sought money during his recruitment.
“I’m not going to entertain something that took place not three months, not six months, not a year, but two years ago,’’ Newton said. “I’m not going to sit up here and say anything about it, whether I did or did not do it, because I don’t want to beat a dead horse talking about it. It’s not going to affect me any way, shape, or fashion.’’
Newton has denied doing anything wrong in his recruitment. A person familiar with the situation has told the AP that Auburn has received no letter of inquiry from the NCAA and that an internal review of phone and e-mail records showed no contact with Kenny Rogers, who ESPN.com cited as the man who approached Bond.
The person, who spoke anonymously because he wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the matter, said the university also found nothing improper in the personal and church bank records of Cecil Newton.
Newton was arrested at Florida in November 2008 for having a stolen laptop. The charges were dropped last December when he completed a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders.
Asked if the accusations about academic cheating bothered him, Newton said: “Am I hurt? No. Am I curious? A little bit, but it really doesn’t get to me that much.’’