The NCAA deemed Auburn QB Cam Newton eligible to play in the SEC Championship game, according to a statement released Wednesday by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff.
The timeline of events here works like this:
- On Monday, the NCAA determined that Newton had been the subject of a violation of the NCAA's code of amateurism. This violation, according to the release, was committed by the father of the player (Cecil Newton) and "an owner of a scouting service" (Kenny Rogers) when they attempted to work a pay-for-play scheme for Newton's services.
- On Tuesday, Auburn briefly ruled Newton ineligible for the violation, and applied for reinstatement.
- The NCAA responded by reinstating Newton on Wednesday. Auburn has also voluntarily "limited the access Newton’s father has to the athletics program and Mississippi State has disassociated the involved individual."
The statement today does not mean that this case is closed by any stretch of the imagination. The final portion of the statement is as follows:
Reinstatement decisions are independent of the NCAA enforcement process and typically are made once the facts of the student-athlete’s involvement are determined. The reinstatement process is likely to conclude prior to the close of an investigation. It is NCAA policy not to comment on current, pending or potential investigations.
That is a lawyerly way of saying that given what is known now, Auburn is free and clear to play Newton in 2010, but that the investigation may or may not be still open toward further investigation down the road. So something for everyone, in other words: Auburn fans may rejoice at getting Newton for the championship game and the potential for a national title shot, and those convinced of fishy doings here may read the final paragraph and assume the story isn't done.