That slimy media workout organized by what many see as the ex-Auburn quarterback’s slimy dad? Yeah, it went so well that it changed the Newton-is-no-NFL-quarterback narrative.
The workout went so well that Under Armour pulled the trigger on a shoe deal with Newton, reportedly the richest ever for an incoming NFL rookie.
So, those in Alabama and elsewhere who see Newton as the ultimate negative symbol for a shower-inspiring 2010 college football season will just have to look away from all of those commercials and displays at sporting good stores.
They’ll have to look away as Newton quite probably goes on to have a productive NFL career.
But hey, at least the NCAA will swoop in and vacate all of Newton’s accomplishments with Auburn this past season, right?
Don’t count on it, based on NCAA president Mark Emmert’s latest comments about what’s believed to be an on-going probe of Newton‘s recruitment. Take his comments to an Associated Press Sports Editors meeting this past weekend at face value, and Newton’s dad didn’t even break an existing by-law when he allegedly attempted to shop his son to Mississippi State.
Emmert also made it sound like nothing has changed since the NCAA reinstated Newton in early December, and the ultimate outcome will be a legislative tweak to cover the loophole Cecil Newton is said to have exposed.
That’s not exactly vacation of Auburn’s BCS national title or Cam Newton shipping his Heisman Trophy back to New York, but that’s the sound of things.
“I said very loud and clear that I think it’s absolutely a fundamentally wrong for a father to try to sell the services of his son or daughter to the highest bidder, to a university,” Emmert said. “We ought never to allow that to happen.
“But yet, having not anticipated that, we didn’t have any rule or structure that said it was a violation of any of our rules. I found that grossly inappropriate that didn’t have a structure in which we could say, ‘No, you can’t do that.’”
We’ve heard similar sentiments from Emmert, but his latest statement offers the most head-clubbing language to date. There was no rule to cover what Cecil Newton did.
Soooooo … why did Auburn even have to make a show of declaring Newton ineligible for a day?
Emmert’s statement contradicts the “violations of amateurism rules” cited at the time. According to the Dec. 1, 2010 NCAA news release, “NCAA rules (Bylaw 12.3.3) do not allow individuals or entities to represent a prospective student-athlete for compensation to a school for an athletic scholarship.”
Cam Newton’s reinstatement was based on extenuating circumstances. Neither Cam Newton nor Auburn knew of Cecil Newton’s activities, the NCAA said then.
Two-and-a-half months later, Emmert says, “We didn’t have any rule or structure that said it was a violation of any of our rules.”
The latest statement is consistent with efforts to close the so-called “Newton loophole” legislatively, but does it all indicate evolution of NCAA thinking on the case since Dec. 1? Is it a devil-in-the-details scenario, where NCAA minds now find the by-law not specific enough to cover what Cecil Newton is said to have done?
If so, then Auburn’s and Newton’s accomplishments this past season would seem more likely than ever to stand, and Emmert seemed to offer more positive signs for Cam Newton and Auburn. He continued to defend the NCAA’s reinstatement ruling.
“There was no evidence money changed hands, and we made a decision that felt to many people morally objectionable, but it fit the facts of the circumstances,” Emmert said. “It was highly controversial, which happens often.”
On that point, there’s no change. That Emmert signals no backing off his defense of that ruling can be interpreted to show the NCAA has found no further evidence.
After all that has been reported publicly and continued probing my various media, after the NCAA scoured Newton family and church financial records and after months of opportunity for those who might have a grievance with the Newtons, one senses there’s still no game-changing evidence.
And we just heard from Emmert that Cecil Newton broke no existing by-law.
If so, then it’s time for the NCAA to declare its work done, barring hard evidence that would re-open the case. At the very least, let’s have a progress report.
Emmert called for more transparency, after all.
“We want to do as much of that in as open a way as we can,” he said.
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Jomedstar.