During a radio interview with Paul Finebaum at SEC Media Day on Wednesday, Danny Sheridan of the USA Today said that his sources at the NCAA believe they have found a third-party "bag man" who helped Auburn University obtain the services of quarterback and 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.
"The investigation, of course, is ongoing," Sheridan told Finebaum. "And what they're looking at now, and I don't know if the NCAA can hang their hat on this, I don't know if it'll be successful, but obviously they feel there was money that exchanged hands. Proving it is another matter.
"There's x-number of dollars to Cam Newton's father's church, and x-number of dollars to his father. And that's the current investigation. That's what they're--I wouldn't say trying to prove--but that's what they're investigating. So those are the two issues: x-number of dollars to his dad, and again, x-number of dollars to his dad's church. Handled by a third party."
Sheridan added that approximately $180,000-$200,000 allegedly exchanged hands, with $20,000-$30,000 going to Newton's father's church.
During last month's SEC meetings, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik complained to the NCAA about their slowness in declaring that their investigation into Newton was over. Julie Roe Lach of the NCAA reportedly told Chizik that "You'll know when we're finished. And we're not finished".
"I don't fault Coach Chizik at all for wanting to know. The system is a tad flawed," Sheridan said. "But when you bring it to the forefront like that, unintentionally--well, it was definitely unintentional--you rev up the motors. And the more a story is in the news, such as the gentlemen on the west coast at Oregon (Chip Kelly) or LSU, the more the NCAA pursues it. That's very understandable. And they're vigorously pursuing it, and as I understand it, they're trying to get a third person, allegedly the 'bag man', to step forward. And if he steps forward, then it'll be a bad situation. But I don't know that he will step forward. I don't know if they have any evidence...
"If it happened, the money would not have been delivered by a rogue alumni, it would have been through a third-party."
If proven to be true, and alumni from Auburn are proven to have paid Cam Newton, Sheridan anticipates severe sanctions, including the vacating of the 2010 National Championship and Newton's Heisman Trophy, as well as a loss of scholarships.
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