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Slive defends NCAA’s decision on Cam Newton

Mike Slive AP

(Didn’t see that one coming, didja?)

We’re just a couple of hours away from the SEC title game, and the focus is still more on what’s going on off the field regarding one of the participants than what may transpire between the two teams on it.

The NCAA’s decision to allow Cam Newton to remain eligible despite evidence that the Auburn quarterback’s father initiated and encouraged a pay-for-play scheme has caused a tremendous amount of backlash against both the NCAA and the SEC.  The NCAA’s investigation into the situation revealed that neither Newton nor Auburn were aware of the solicitation on the part of the father based on the evidence at their disposal, and therefore are not subject to punishment at this time.  Those claims of ignorance appears to have really struck the match on the firestorm, with cries of “slippery slopes” and “plunge into lawlessness” entering the college football lexicon.

Predictably, the SEC’s commissioner has come out and defended the decision that’s allowing Newton to play in not only the league’s title game, but presumably the BcS title game as well if the Tigers can knock off South Carolina this afternoon/evening.  Speaking to the Associated Press, Slive stated that what is equitable for and fair to the student-athlete is Job One of the NCAA’s reinstatement committee, and that a message shouting down an inexplicable loophole in the system shouldn’t be sent at the expense of a student-athlete when the evidence available suggests he was Sgt. Schultz.

“The long-term issue is that we do not want this conduct that his father engaged in, this reprehensible conduct,” Slive said. “But we should not be in the business of sending messages on the back of a student-athlete on the facts that I just outlined.

“What we need to do is to look at the NCAA legislation, which is not clear enough in any way to deal with an issue like this, and strengthen it and clarify it.”

Part of the outcry against the decision is based on the SEC’s own bylaws, which seem to state that the mere act of solicitation — whether the player has knowledge of it or not — should result in the player facing some type of repercussion.  Not so, says a conference official, based on their interpretation of the rule.

“The facts in this case, as we understand them, are that the student-athlete’s father, without knowledge of the student-athlete, solicited improper payments (which were rejected) from an institution the young man did not attend, and that the institution where the young man is enrolled was not involved,” SEC spokesman Charles Bloom told the AP.

With all of the noise surrounding this issue, it’s taken on the appearance that this is some monumental bylaw mountain that needs to be climbed over the next couple of months.  In reality, it’s not.  It’s actually quite simple: close the freaking loophole.

Everyone involved readily admits that the potential for a major problem exists, with the NCAA’s decision seemingly opening the door for anyone associated with a student-athlete to stick out his hand and ask for impermissible benefits with no fear of recrimination as long as the student-athlete claims ignorance.  There’s simply no need for extensive and exhaustive meetings, conference calls, committees, sub-committees, bales of post-it notes, referendums or any of that other crap.  See loophole, close loophole.

The toothpaste can’t be crammed back in the tube on the Newton situation, not with the evidence available and the rules as they are being interpreted at this time.  They can get a whole new tube, though, and ensure they don’t squirt it all over themselves and create a similar mess in the future.

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15 Responses to “Slive defends NCAA’s decision on Cam Newton”
  1. seeingwhatsticks says: Dec 4, 2010 2:51 PM

    From what I read about this rule prior to this week it seems like the “student didn’t know” clause is new, and the loophole. My understanding was that someone associated with the student asking for money, whether it was paid out or not, whether the student ended up going to the school or not, was the ballgame. Somehow the interpretation of that rule has changed in the last week. This whole thing stinks, and if it was an Alabama player, not an Auburn player, Auburn fans would be up in arms about it.

    I’d like to add that kids pay for the mistakes of their parents ALL THE TIME, so what should NCAA sports be any different? If a parent gets his or her self arrested and is unable to provide a decent life for their kid, is the kid still entitled to that decent life? No? But it’s the parent that made the mistake not the kid! It wouldn’t really be fair to rule Cam Newton ineligible if he really didn’t know what was going on, and he shouldn’t have to be responsible for his father. But life’s not fair and actions should have consequences, even for those who can play football.

    One more thing: by the time you’re 18-20 years old you know if your parents are sketchy or straight. Doesn’t mean you don’t love them, or that they stop being your parents, but the world is full of athletes who have distanced themselves from relatives, even parents (I think Drew Brees famously doesn’t speak with his mother). If Newton is so innocent, why has he done nothing to try and distance himself from his father, who everyone now agrees is/was dirty? We’re not talking about junior high or high school sports here, Cam doesn’t still live under his father’s roof (or even a roof his father provides), and as much as we talk about “student-athletes” and “kids,” these really are adults we’re talking about. Young, inexperienced, and perhaps naive, but still adults. If football and the scholarship mean so much to you, why would you associate with ANYONE who might jeopardize both?

  2. 9mike9 says: Dec 4, 2010 2:59 PM

    As has been pointed out in other articles, it’s interesting that it’s considered a loophole now when players in the past have been punished for the alleged actions of their parents. For example, Damon Stoudamire was suspended when a sports agent alleged that he’d given a plane ticket to Damon’s father. At that point, ir apparently wasn’t a loophole and now it is. Damon’s father apparently denied accepting the ticket and Damon knew nothing about it. Meanwhile, Cecil Newton admits to soliciting money and Cam Newton is untouchable due to a loophole. It seems “innocent until proven guilty” only applies haphazardly.

    The only argument I hear on this from the pro Newton crowd is that Stoudamire’s father allegedly received a benefit while Cecil Newton supposedly has not received a benefit. It’s nice to see that the supposed failure of the solicitation is apparently a valid leg to stand on against suspension.

  3. hail2tharedskins says: Dec 4, 2010 3:24 PM

    Somebody should file a class action lawsuit against the on behalf of all college football fans

    (and this isnt a joke – it would definitely get their attention and they would stop all the bullchit they sell the fans way in the name of making an extra buck – and as a by product during the clean up we might actually get a playoff)

  4. saintcasey says: Dec 4, 2010 3:28 PM

    I’ve lost all respect for the SEC, but never really had any for the NCAA. Wasn’t a USC player suspended for a game for riding in a golf cart? A RIDE IN A FREAKIN’ GOLF CART!!! Cam Newton’s family solicits $180,000 to play, but he doesn’t get suspended, and I don’t wanna hear some b.s. that he didn’t know. I believe that if someone keeps digging they will find that someone associated with Auburn paid his father for him to play there. I hope Auburn goes down….hard.

  5. rick1922 says: Dec 4, 2010 3:43 PM

    The NCAA makes the rules as it goes along ask USC the NCAA is a joke.

  6. Deb says: Dec 4, 2010 3:44 PM

    As I said about Emmert, sometimes it’s best to stay quiet and live with everyone assuming you’re corrupt than to open your mouth and remove any doubt. Past actions of the SEC and NCAA concerning other players speak for themselves. At this point, the leadership of both organizations have lost all credibility and need to be removed as soon as possible. I’m confident that karma will deal with the rest … sooner or later.

  7. edgy loves (insert overrated MWC/WAC team) says: Dec 4, 2010 4:46 PM

    Deb, +1

    u are exactly right in your thinking,

    and hopefully the karma does play out

  8. borninhuntsv says: Dec 4, 2010 4:54 PM

    If Cam Newton was wearing crimson and white, the NCAA would have declared him ineligible and lowered the boom.

    The SEC and the NCAA leadership needs to go.

    This whole deal is a joke. I can only hope that justice prevails since the wheels are turning exceedingly slow.

  9. packers1996 says: Dec 4, 2010 5:34 PM

    Strange is it not, that this happened to Reggie Bush n they took away his heisman in the pac-10 but Newton gets away with it for being in the SEC i swear the NCAA is more biased than fox news its rediculous

  10. bigbear12 says: Dec 4, 2010 6:08 PM

    If Newton is guilty then Auburn forfeits their season and TCU likely goes to title game where the BCS racket gets exposed.
    Giving BCS critics more and more ammo.

  11. soflatrojan says: Dec 4, 2010 8:29 PM

    Deb,
    Here is the SEC bylaw

    14.01.3.2 of the SEC bylaws.

    “If at any time before or after matriculation in a member institution a student-athlete or any member of his/her family receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or assistance beyond or in addition to that permitted by the Bylaws of this Conference (except such aid or assistance as such student-athlete may receive from those persons on whom the student is naturally or legally dependent for support), such student- athlete shall be ineligible for competition in any intercollegiate sport within the Conference for the remainder of his/her college career.”

  12. davidjcu says: Dec 4, 2010 9:09 PM

    I hate the fact that people act like this is a rare occurence. This happens ALL OF THE TIME. Big name prospects almost always get some sort of compensation when signing with big time programs. If you’ve ever been on one of these campuses and seen the cars these kids drive, or if you’ve ever known any big time D1 basketball or football player you know this is a common occurence. Lets face it, these kids are more like semi-pro athletes versus actual student athletes.

  13. mrcowpatty says: Dec 4, 2010 9:28 PM

    The checks in the mail. Next question?

  14. gamecockinfl says: Dec 4, 2010 10:09 PM

    Maybe if Newtons dad had solicited the money while riding in a golf cart there would have been a punishment. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Got to protect the big money game in Tempe

  15. Deb says: Dec 4, 2010 10:34 PM

    @packers1996 …

    The NCAA didn’t drop the hammer on USC until FIVE YEARS after the fact and they DID NOT take away Reggie Bush’s Heisman. He gave it back of his own accord. As borninhuntsv points out, the NCAA has been gung ho to punish other SEC teams when they had little evidence. This situation is only beginning, and Newton hasn’t even won the Heisman. Give it five years. If the investigation hasn’t moved forward by then, you can start whining about the SEC.

    @soflatrojan …

    Apparently the key phrase is “receives or agrees to receive.” So far there’s evidence only that Cecil asked … not that he received. But I expect there will be more on that forthcoming.

    @davidjcu …

    True. And you know, people murder people every day. So why on earth do we waste so much tax money arresting, trying, and imprisoning the few murderers we catch?? Good grief, since everyone’s doing it, we shouldn’t single out one or two murderers for trial while the rest get off. That’s sooo unfair! Just let them all go.

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