With investigators gathering new information into pay-to-play allegations surrounding Auburn star quarterback Cam Newton, the NCAA could recommend Friday that the star quarterback be held out of competition pending a ruling on his eligibility.
Known runner Kenny Rogers told ESPN Radio in Dallas on Thursday that Newton's father, Cecil Newton, advised him it would take "anywhere between $100,000 and $180,000" for his son to sign with Mississippi State. Rogers told ESPN Radio he acted on that demand, reaching out to a Mississippi State booster and attempting to facilitate a deal. According to NCAA interpretations, such an action would be a rules violation regardless of whether money exchanged hands or if Newton eventually signed with another school.
"The solicitation of cash or benefits by a prospective student-athlete or another individual on his or her behalf is not allowed under NCAA rules," NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday.
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 ignored that recommendation and Newton was eventually found to be ineligible, the school could be subject to more stringent sanctioning.
Newton, considered the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, has led Auburn to a 10-0 start and the No. 2 ranking in the Bowl Championship Series, the Associated Press and the USA Today polls. The Tigers play host to Georgia on Saturday.
Rogers, a former Mississippi State player and former recruiter for NFL agent Ian Greengross, told ESPN Radio that Newton's father introduced the idea of receiving a payment for his son's commitment. Newton played at the University of Florida as a freshman, then transferred to Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas. While leading Blinn to a national championship, he became the top junior college recruit in the country.
It was then that Rogers said he reached out the Newton family, offering to help facilitate the recruiting process. Rogers alleged that shortly afterward, Cecil Newton said his son's next commitment to a school was "not gonna be free this time."
Rogers told ESPN Radio he was only involved in discussions with a booster from Mississippi State and had no knowledge of Newton's recruitment by Auburn. He added that he was unsure of Cam Newton's knowledge of the alleged pay-for-play plan, and that he didn't meet the quarterback until Nov. 27, 2009.
Rogers and Greengross are currently the targets of a disciplinary complaint by the NFL Players Association, which alleges violations of agent regulations and also focuses on the misconduct of Rogers, who has worked on behalf of Greengross in the past. Greengross has not been named as having played a role in the Newton commitment.
The FBI has opened an investigation into the Newton recruitment and is expected to speak with one of Rogers' former Mississippi State teammates, John Bond, who initially sparked the NCAA's inquiry into Newton's recruitment when he reported the alleged pay-for-play scheme to the school's athletic department in January.
Contact Yahoo! Sports investigative reporter Charles Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Kenny Rogers
- Mississippi State