Cam Newton Investigation: Auburn Releases Docs Detailing Agent's Efforts

Almost a year after allegations that Cam Newton's father sought money for his football services first burst into the open, the probe ended with a whimper.

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Cam Newton Investigation: Did Kenny Rogers Just Confess To The 'Payment Plan'?

One of the latest-breaking pieces of the Cam Newton investigation is Mississippi State booster Bill Bell's revelation that he received a text message containing a "payment plan" that would have sent Newton to play for the Bulldogs if executed. Via his lawyer, Doug Zeit, agent-like substance Kenny Rogers has as much as admitted to being the inquiring party, and he's being extremely quick about shoveling blame in Cecil Newton's direction:

An attorney for Kenny Rogers says his client knows he made "a stupid decision" when he sent a fellow Mississippi State booster a text of Cecil Newton's payment plan to secure his son, Cam Newton's, commitment to the Bulldogs.

In a phone interview with The Associated Press Thursday, Doug Zeit says Rogers sent the text after Cecil Newton insisted he do it.

The latest ESPN dispatch is full of carefully specific lawyerspeak from both Zeit and the Newton family's attorney, George Lawson. Among the choicer bits: Zeit stating that no money changed hands (regarding Mississippi State), the insistence that the younger Newton has never asked for money, and this gem from Lawson: "Cam Newton knew nothing about any money discussions if any discussions were had." Yes, everything about this sounds completely aboveboard.

For those of you getting lost in the snarl of personalities present here, an energetic LSU message board has put together a complete cast list of current players in the investigation. Enjoy.

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Bill Bell Says He Got Payment Plan For Cam Newton; McGregor Denies Involvement

And now we have the first claims of some sort of documented proof in the Cameron Newton investigation, according to ESPN’s latest report.

Bill Bell, a Mississippi State booster and former player at the school, told the NCAA he received a text message from a man claiming to represent Cam Newton’s father that outlined a payment plan designed to bring the quarterback to the Bulldogs. …

Bell told ESPN.com he also shared a series of voice mail messages from Rogers with the NCAA last week. Bell said Cecil Newton never specifically asked him for money, but that Newton was present during three-way calls in which Rogers discussed a pay-for-play scheme.

Bell says the cell phone with the original text messages on it were damaged, but he’s trying to retrieve them. Auburn better hope the proverbial dog ate them; if there are text messages like that floating around, it could be curtains for Newton’s eligibility.

Not that Bell’s current packet of proof wouldn’t be enough, if he can somehow prove that Newton was on the line when Rogers and Bell talked business. At this point, any kind of evidence that doesn’t support Auburn’s case is not good evidence, as even Cecil Newton doing this without his son knowing it could endanger Newton’s eligibility.

It’s never a one-story day in the Cam Newton saga: We either get nothing or we’re hit with a deluge of information within a few hours. So perhaps the TMZ report earlier today, which said that FBI agents involved in the investigation were asking questions about a related political bribery case, should have been a tip that more was coming.

On that front, Auburn booster Milton McGregor has issued a statement about his role (or lack thereof) in the Newton case. Keep in mind that McGregor has been charged with bribing state politicians in Alabama.

Mr. McGregor has never been asked to provide money for any recruitment or compensation of any current or perspective student athlete including Cam Newton at Auburn or any other school, and has never provided any type of compensation in that regard period no exceptions.

But he also wants you to know:

As a proud supporter of Auburn University Mr. Mcgregor wants it known that he does cheer loudly for Cam Newton and thinks he is the best athlete in college football.

Good for him.

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Cam Newton Investigation: The FBI And A Wider Eligibility Issue

Though it sounded sensational at the time, the involvement of the FBI in the Cam Newton investigation has turned out to be far from conjecture. John Bond, the ex-Bulldog player who serves as the connection from Mississippi State University to agent-like substance and alleged Newton family representative Kenny Rogers, confirmed through his lawyer that he's spoken with agents regarding this case. And according to Rogers' own lawyer, he's apparently next in line to be questioned by the feds.

So as far as the investigation itself, where are we regarding Cam Newton's eligibility? Three tidbits from the latest ESPN report mark the way:

Friday, Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin acknowledged in a statement that the school "was approached with an offer to provide an extra benefit" and that the school refused.

Auburn has contended that Newton is an "eligible student-athlete" in light of reports that Rogers, acting on behalf of Cecil Newton, told two Mississippi State representatives -- Bond and Bill Bell -- that it would take money to get Newton to play at their school.
[...]
[MSU booster Bill] Bell, contacted Thursday night by ESPN.com, confirmed Cecil Newton did ask for money in exchange for Cam Newton to sign with Mississippi State. Bell said he was contacted by the NCAA about the matter and spoke to an investigator earlier this week.

We have a federal investigation; we have an NCAA investigation, but nothing that's been made public indicates that Auburn University was involved in financial dealings with the Newton family, which puts him in the clear, no? Not so, according to blogger/lawyer hybrid Clay Travis:

If this is true, a clear reading of this SEC bylaw would suggest that in making this demand "a student-athlete or any member of his/her family ... agrees to receive, directly or directly," an improper benefit that would rule him ineligible not just at the school in question but at all schools in the conference in every sport. A solicitation is a request or encouragement of another to perform an act. If Cecil Newton solicited Mississippi State then he agreed to receive the improper benefits by nature of the solicitation.

Will Newton's father's alleged actions during his recruitment by Mississippi State torpedo his time at Auburn, and take with it the Tigers' undefeated season? A better question might be: Will there even be the slightest headway made in this matter before Cam Newton graduates and/or takes off for the draft?

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Cam Newton Investigation: NCAA Reps Reportedly Questioned Family; Newton Will Start Against Georgia

Just a touch more intrigue leading up to the 3:30 Georgia-Auburn kickoff, because if there's one thing this game is lacking it's extraneous distraction: Auburn's Rivals outfit is reporting that "at least one representative of the NCAA" questioned Cam Newton and his parents on Thursday. Salient tidbits:

The source could not confirm if the NCAA came to any definitive conclusions on Cam Newton's eligibility following the meeting.
[...]
Jay Jacobs, Auburn's athletic director, would not comment Friday when asked if Cam Newton was eligible to play against the Bulldogs.

Newton was seen boarding the team bus Friday in Auburn.

Beyond that, we know that Newton's taken the field for warmups with the rest of his team, and is getting a riotous reception from the home crowd. All indications point to him starting for the Tigers this afternoon, but university officials remain closemouthed, and Gene Chizik has canceled his pregame interview with CBS's Tracy Wolfson.

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Cam Newton Investigation: Auburn 'Aware Of Potential Eligibility Issue'

A crucial turning point has been reached in the Cam Newton investigation, as Charles Robinson reports that there's a reason behind Auburn University's recent run of "no comment" answers and "expect to play" dodges:

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The stakes, for the moment, couldn't be much higher for the Tigers: A win against Georgia Saturday would give the SEC's lone remaining undefeated team the West division title for 2010, and send them to Atlanta in December to face whoever staggers out of the lobster-pot East division. A win with a player later ruled ineligible, after being warned off (to some degree) by the NCAA, wouldn't augur well for leniency on the part of the Committee on Infractions should sanctions become part of the discussion. A win with Newton's backup, healthily-consonanted sophomore Barrett Trotter (he of the five pass completions in 2010), against a Todd Grantham defense that appears to have rediscovered the use of their upper bodies in tackling may not be possible.

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Cam Newton Investigation Ongoing, Still Expected To Start Against Georgia

All discussion of the Cam Newton investigation and its effects on the focus of the team, the Heisman Trophy race, and the like could be rendered moot very shortly. In a sharp about-face from Gene Chizik's full-throated defense of Newton on Tuesday, Auburn officials are newly closemouthed when it comes to questions about their star show pony's eligibility. Tracy Wolfson of CBS, who's of course in a pretty good position to have solid university contacts, couldn't get a word out of any Tigers athletic administrators:

Screen_shot_2010-11-12_at_2

Another traditionally solid source, however, is reporting that despite the zipped lips, Auburn expects Newton to start against Georgia. From AL.com:

Nothing has changed in Cam Newton's status, and Auburn expects its quarterback to start against Georgia on Saturday, the Auburn Bureau of al.com learned Friday.

Newton practiced with the first team Thursday night.

The takeaway, of course, is that nobody knows anything, still. Stay tuned to this StoryStream for all the latest updates.

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Cam Newton Investigation: Heisman Trophy Voters Standing By Their Man

The Cam Newton investigation has further-reaching implications than just this weekend's Auburn-Georgia game or the Iron Bowl. Heisman Trophy chatter site Stiff Arm Trophy polled a sample of the award's voting body, and heard back from 58 members, roughly 79% of whom said the various allegations swirling around Cam Newton wouldn't sway their voting.

Which is all very interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the reasons several of them expressed:

[A] number of voters shared the sentiment expressed by Fanhouse's Brett McMurphy (a Florida voter): "These are still only allegations. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?"

Nothing happened to it. It's still there. But unless the FBI's involvement in this case continues and deepens, nobody in Cam Newton's case is on trial. Nor is Cam entitled to due process: Recall that based on their own bylaws, the NCAA would be perfectly within bounds to recommend suspension based on the actions of Cecil Newton or another third party alone, even if Cam had no prior knowledge.

[The] Oregonian's John Hunt said, "The Heisman Trust may see fit to take a trophy away, but it's not our place to judge players' character - just what they do on the field."

That's nice -- only it is their place. The very first sentence of the Heisman Trophy Trust mission statement reads:

The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.
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Cam Newton Investigation: NCAA Could Recommend Suspension

Charles Robinson's getting in the Cam Newton investigation game, reporting that the NCAA could (very strong emphasis on could, please) recommend that Auburn sit Cam Newton for Saturday's game against Georgia -- regardless of whether or not he had any knowledge of his father's alleged recruiting antics:

Under NCAA guidelines, Newton could be held responsible for any alleged solicitation on the part of Rogers or his father, and determined to be ineligible. According to past precedent, the NCAA’s next step would be to inform Auburn of Newton’s potential ineligibility and recommend he be held out of competition indefinitely. If Auburn were to ignore that recommendation and Newton were eventually be found to be ineligible, the school could be subject to more stringent sanctioning.

Though it's still completely unknown whether Auburn took any action in the recruitment of Cam Newton that could affect the validity of their accumulated wins, the case for sitting the Heisman Trophy frontrunner to ward off fallout from eligibility problems strengthens with yet another puzzle piece: Mississippi State booster Bill Bell confirmed to ESPN tonight that Cecil Newton asked him for money and that he's been questioned by NCAA investigators.

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AUDIO: Kenny Rogers Says Cam Newton's Father Was Shopping Him

In a twist that's both surprising and unsurprising, agent-like substance Kenny Rogers told ESPN Radio's Dallas station this afternoon that not only was Cam Newton's father Cecil Newton shopping Cam around during his recruitment out of junior college, he had a specific price range in mind. Audio of the most pertinent bit, with a transcript below:

[Via.]

Host Ian Fitzsimmons: Cecil Newton, in this process, in recruitment of his son, did he ever tell you flat-out, "This is what it's gonna take for any school to get my son to go sign a letter of intent and play for them?"

Kenny Rogers: Yes, he did.

Fitzsimmons: How much was it?

Rogers: Anywhere between a hundred and a hundred eighty thousand.

Fitzsimmons: To go play college football, to sign a letter of intent.

Rogers: Basically, to get his son.

ESPN has the full audio of the show, featuring both Rogers and his attorney, and some additional details -- including, of course, the part where we still don't know the extent, if any, of Auburn's involvement:

Rogers said he only was involved with Cecil Newton in regards to Mississippi State.
[...]
Rogers said he didn't know anything about Newton's recruitment at Auburn, or any other school. He said he had "no idea" why Newton chose Auburn and had no idea if Auburn paid Newton.

SB Nation's Track 'Em Tigers is already breaking down the latest news volley.

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Report: Cam Newton Allegedly Talked Of Payment Plan During Recruitment

ESPN is reporting Cam Newton's father, Cecil Newton, spoke of needing "more than a scholarship" during the star quarterbacks recruitment process last year. Both Cam and Cecil Newton allegedly confirmed in two separate phone interviews that a pay-for-play plan was needed to secure the quarterback. The sources, both with recruiting ties to Mississippi State, added Cam Newton called to inform them his father had chosen Auburn for him, saying the "the money was too much." Mississippi State relayed the information to the SEC compliance office in January.

Prior to Newton's commitment to Auburn, one of the recruiters said Cecil Newton told him it would take "more than a scholarship" to bring his son to Mississippi State, a request the source said the school would not meet. Cecil Newton also referred the recruiter to a third person that would provide more specifics, the source said.

Newton has been embroiled in controversy for the better part of the last week. After allegations of recruiting violationssurfaced on Thursday, it's been open season on the Heisman contender from Auburn. It got worse for Newton, at least in the PR department, yesterday after allegations of academic impropriety during his time at Florida came to light. Auburn head coach Gene Chizik spent the day feverishly denying the allegations in an emotional statement to the media. Even if Newton did cheat while at Florida, it wouldn't affect his current status at Auburn.

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Auburn's Cam Newton Reportedly Cheated While At Florida

It’s getting worse before it gets better for Auburn Heisman contender Cam Newton. Already under investigation for the events surrounding his recruitment, Newton’s past at Florida is coming to light -- and it isn't pretty. Newton spent a tumultuous two years at Florida, according to FoxSports.com’s Thayer Evans. It was two years that reportedly involved multiple instances of academic dishonesty in addition to an arrest for the theft of a laptop. Insert your own Jeremiah Masoli joke here.

Newton was arrested for the theft of a laptop from a Florida student’s dorm room in November 2008. He again violated the university’s honor code by putting his name on another student’s paper and turning it in, according to the source. Newton was caught after the instructor asked the real author of the paper why he had not turned in his work, the source said.

It didn’t end there, however. When asked to resubmit the work, the source said Newton handed over a paper purchased on the Internet. The teacher caught attempt No. 2 at cheating, sending Newton to the Florida Student Conduct Committee for his efforts. If nothing else he was persistent.

Instead of facing the consequences for violating the university’s conduct code not once, not twice, but thrice, Newton took his talents to Blinn College before transferring to Auburn and entering the thick of the 2010 Heisman race. With his eligibility in question and an NCAA investigation in full swing, reports about his departure from Florida — and the unflattering circumstances that surrounded it — are about the last thing Newton needed this week.

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Cam Newton: 'I Didn't Do Anything Wrong'

Add Cam Newton to the list of people denying that Cam Newton did anything wrong after the news that a former Mississippi State quarterback allegedly tried to auction off the player's services as he was leaving the junior college ranks.

The money quote:

"I didn't do anything wrong," Newton said. "I'm blessed to be at Auburn right now. I'm sure the smoke will settle. I'm looking forward to the game tomorrow."

While it marks Newton's first comments on the investigation, this is probably not the last time Newton he'll have to address it.

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Cam Newton Investigation Speculation Welcomes Urban Meyer!

We suppose this was inevitable, really, but quietly roiling allegations that connect Urban Meyer to the Cam Newton investigation finally have a mouthpiece and a name to go with them: Phillip Marshall of the (unfortunately paywalled) Auburn Undercover site has heard from folks who heard from John Bond that Urbz pushed for the publicizing of the Cam Newton improper recruitment rigamarole. That's several degrees of separation at work, so take this with as much salt as you can stomach:

Bond was on a three-way telephone call with Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and Meyer to discuss the situation. Both Mullen and Bond said that they believed the matter was closed. They had done what they were supposed to do, passed it on to the league office, and nothing else needed to be said.

But Meyer strongly disagreed, saying it needed to be public and that he was going to call The New York Times. Meyer and Pete Thamel, the reporter who wrote the story for The New York Times, are close friends.
[...]
Meyer, Bond has said privately, "is behind the whole thing."

SB Nation's Track 'Em Tigers has a lively discussion going on the matter, where the first commenter jokes, "If ya can't beat em, try as hard as you can to get them on probation."

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Cam Newton Investigation: Auburn Denies Contact With Newton Family Intermediaries

The Cam Newton investigation plot thins, a little: The AP is now reporting, via ESPN, that Auburn is denying any contact with Kenny Rogers or requests for cash during Newton's recruitment out of junior college.

More thinning:

Auburn has not received a letter of inquiry from the sport's governing body, the person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to comment publicly.
The person said Newton's eligibility "has at no point been in jeopardy." Newton will play Saturday vs. Chattanooga.

Just to remind: Nobody, yet, is saying Newton himself or the Auburn football program has gotten up to anything they shoudn't have. This situation has yet to progress beyond Kenny Rogers and Mississippi State. And this does dovetail with Gene Chizik's flat, declarative statements on his radio show Thursday night that Newton's amateur status is not endangered.

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Cam Newton Investigation: More Details On Kenny Rogers

SB Nation's Roll Bama Roll picks through the additional information in the New York Times regarding the Cam Newton investigation:

Pete Thamel of the New York Times has his latest column up, and it includes at least four new (at least to my knowledge) pieces of information regarding the investigation: (1) John Bond makes the explicit allegation that Kenny Rogers made the representation to him that he represented the Newton camp; (2) court documents show that Kenny Rogers has financial ties to NFL agent Ian Greengross via a shared bank account; (3) Newton's father, in addition to being a preacher, also owns a construction company; (4) Roger's company specializes in players who are transferring and players who have been kicked out of school.

It's this fourth piece of information that may end up causing Cam Newton the most problems. The function of Rogers' firm plus the previously-acknowledged relationship between Cecil Newton and Rogers is going to reek of improper agent contact to even the casual observer.

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Cam Newton Allegations Produce Flurry Of 'No Comment' Reactions

For all the hoopla that's descending at this very moment on Cam Newton and the Auburn football program, there's not even an officially acknowledged NCAA investigation in the works (that we know of). Piece together the timeline from the ESPN piece that kicked this all off, however, and reading between the lines is not difficult:

• Mississippi State alum John Bond reported contact from an old teammate, believed to be Kenny Rogers, to MSU athletic director Greg Byrne.

• MSU called the SEC.

• Bond met with an NCAA investigator and school officials.

• The NCAA's not talking:

"We do not comment on current, pending or potential investigations," said Stacey Osburn, the NCAA's associate director for media and public relations. Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA's new director of enforcement, said it is the association's policy to neither confirm nor deny an investigation.

• Neither is the SEC:

[SEC associate commissioner Greg Sankey] also would not directly comment on whether the league office considers this an ongoing issue or a closed case.

• And neither is the university:

"We have been made aware of the allegation. Unfortunately, we cannot comment at this time," Auburn assistant athletic director, media relations Kirk Sampson said. "However, Cam Newton is eligible to play football at Auburn."

• The NFL Players Association, however, is another story:

NFLPA spokesman Carl Francis told ESPN.com on Thursday that the organization is "in the process of investigating [Greengross and Rogers] as we speak for violations of our rules and regulations."

They know, is the point. Everybody knows, and has known since last summer, and now the question becomes whether Auburn's involved in this at all. Both schools claim to have been completely aboveboard in their actions, but if there's a real connection between Rogers and the Newton family, young Cameron could still find himself sidelined at the height of his game.

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