If you recall, prior (no pun intended) to the fiasco that’s already forced the resignation of Ohio State’s esteemed head coach and is threatening to envelope the entire football program, there was the Cam Newton imbroglio that threatened to derail Auburn’s run to a national title.
Briefly, for background purposes, Mississippi State was made aware, through an intermediary, that Newton’s signature on a Letter of Intent was available in exchange for $180,000, payable to Newton’s father Cecil. MSU coaches/alumni were informed of this “offer” in November of 2009, and MSU officials informed the SEC of the pay-for-play scheme in January of the following year — interestingly, only after Newton opted for the Tigers over the Bulldogs. Shortly after alerting the SEC of a potential issue, the conference requested additional information on the situation from MSU. Because of what the school described as a heavy workload in the compliance department on non-football matters, the information requested by the SEC was not handed over for another six months, at some point during the month of July.
That delay led to the perception that the SEC and/or Auburn and/or the NCAA were dragging their collective feet due to the historic season Newton was in the midst of. The SEC in particular was roundly criticized, a fact that apparently stuck in the craw of commissioner Mike Slive. And, as it turns out, has led to some minor changes in how potential violations are handled.
Speaking to the media in the midst of the SEC’s spring meetings Tuesday, Slive said that the conference has met with the NCAA regarding the “timing issue” and, while not getting into any specifics, allowed that the way they do business will be tweaked in the future.
“We’ve reached an accommodation as to the kinds of issues they (the NCAA) have had in mind, and what they want to know, when they want to know,” Slive said according to the Birmingham News. “Those are relatively simple things for us to accommodate. There may be certain issues that they want to know about earlier than others. We have no problem reaching that accommodation.”
Slive also acknowledged discussions with MSU in regards to the way the entire Newton episode played out in the first half of 2010.
Slive said the SEC has since had appropriate dialogue with Mississippi State “and we’re at a comfortable place with them now.” Mississippi State Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said the school was not penalized by the SEC.
“I think what happened last year is an opportunity for us to reassess and make sure that we’re where we all need to be as far as working within the league guidelines,” Stricklin said. “I’ve said all along, we had integrity in the way we managed the recruitment of the young man.”
Said Slive: “Everybody in our league knows exactly what we expect of them. We’re very comfortable with that. We’re very comfortable with our relationship with the NCAA. We’ve always been that way.”
Incidentally, and for those who were curious, there are still open and ongoing investigations involving Newton’s recruitment as well as Auburn’s recruiting practices. And an NCAA look into Tiger Prowl. And allegations made by four former players on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.