NCAA clears Auburn of any wrongdoing in Newton, other cases
by Charles Bennett
cbennett@annistonstar.com
Oct 13, 2011 | 2711 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AUBURN — The clean bill of health Auburn hoped for arrived.

The NCAA’s 13-month investigation into possible rules violations at Auburn in the recruiting of quarterback Cam Newton, as well as other “pay for play” allegations, is at an end with no major violations uncovered.

A summary of the findings was given in the form of a letter from Jackie A. Thomas, NCAA Director of Enforcement.

 “As such, any allegations of major rules violations must meet a burden of proof, which is a higher standard than rampant public speculation online and in the media,” the statement read. “The allegations must be based on credible and persuasive information and includes a good-faith belief that the Committee on Infractions could make a finding.”

The notification, which Auburn received Tuesday and released alongside the NCAA Wednesday, was a welcomed one.

“We appreciate the NCAA and thank them for their professionalism and thoroughness during this exhaustive investigation,” Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said in a prepared statement.  “We are pleased to put this matter behind us.”

Auburn coach Gene Chizik said the release merely confirmed what he had been saying all along.

“I feel very confident about the way we run this program and I’ve said many times that we haven’t done anything wrong,” Chizik said. “So quite frankly, I’ve moved on a long time ago. My focus has been to win football games and that’s where it will continue to be.”

Putting matters behind them was something Auburn was unable to do during its run to a Bowl Championship Series National title.

Distractions followed the program and its eventual Heisman Trophy quarterback week after week as rumor after rumor popped up.

And even the good news served as a distraction, too, as many tried to read between the lines from NCAA and Auburn University officials as to when — if ever — the case would find resolution.

But it wasn’t able to derail the Tigers from 2010’s ultimate goal: A 22-19 victory over Oregon in the BCS title game.

Cam Newton was at the center of the bulk of the rumors when questions were raised about his recruitment out of Blynn (Texas) Junior College. Notably, Cecil Newton shopping his son with the help of Kenny Rogers, owner of a scouting service, to Mississippi State for a six-figure sum, which violates NCAA Bylaw 12.3.3.

The matter had been detailed in Auburn’s Nov. 30, 2010, self report, but the NCAA found that Newton’s compensation his father sought could not be held against him because “It was also determined that (Cam Newton) and university representatives were not aware of that activity.”

Cam Newton offered little comment when asked his reaction to Wednesday’s news.

“I could have told you that,” Newton told the Charlotte Observer as he left the Panthers’ practice facility on Wednesday.

When pressed for additional comment, Newton said, “No, let’s let old wounds heal.”

While their star quarterback was the main attraction, there were other acts in the circus.

Things heated up with when four players alleged wrongdoing at Auburn on a cable sports program. HBO’s Real Sports interviewed Raven Gray, Stanley McGlover, Chaz Ramsey and Troy Reddick for a segment called “Dirty Money” in which all four said they were compensated by Auburn boosters with “money handshakes” after games.

The NCAA said Gray’s allegations “were not substantiated, and in some instances were disputed by others.”

The other three refused to cooperate with NCAA officials after “several” attempts, the letter said.

But while the case is closed and locked away, the NCAA failed to throw away the key.

“As with any case, should the enforcement staff become aware of additional credible information, it will review the information to determine whether further investigation is warranted,” the statement reads.

 

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