Okay, so it’s not really called the Cam Newton rule. At least not yet.
But we can certainly guess why the NCAA is recommending it to the Division 1 Amateurism Cabinet.
According to the Associated Press, the NCAA is looking into broadening the definition of what classifies as an agent to include family members and other (hopefully) soon-to-be-specified third parties in an effort to close the loophole that allowed Newton to remain eligible last December.
NCAA bylaw 12.3.3, for which Newton was originally ruled ineligible under, currently classifies an “athletics scholarship agent” as “Any individual, agency or organization that represents a prospective student-athlete for compensation in placing the prospective student-athlete in a collegiate institution as a recipient of institutional financial aid shall be considered an agent or organization marketing the individual’s athletics ability or reputation.”
The NCAA later determined Cam didn’t know his father was attempting to solicit money for his playing services, and under bylaw 14.11.1, he was reinstated and allowed to play in the BCS National Championship.
By specifying that an athletic scholarship agent could be a family member, it wouldn’t matter if a player didn’t know that the said family member was shopping the athlete’s services for financial gain because the family member would be representing that prospect for compensation.
In other words, if this rule had been instated at the time of the NCAA’s December ruling, Cam Newton would not only have been ineligible for the BCS Championship game, he would have been ineligible for the 2010 season.
Upon first glance, it would appear the term “any individual… that represents a prospective student-athlete for compensation” is pretty all-encompassing, but if there’s one thing of which the NCAA isn’t afraid, it’s getting more specific.
UPDATED 10:10 a.m. ET on 7/27: A couple people have raised some good questions that merit some clarification. As I noted above, common sense would indicate that the phrase “any individual” would include a parent or other family member.
The key word to hone in on is “represent”. Rule 12.3.3 implies — and perhaps dangerously, assumes — that someone representing a student-athlete or a prospect is doing so with the student-athlete’s or prospect’s knowledge. That doesn’t necessarily mean that representation has to be legal or official, just someone who is looking for compensation on behalf of that student-athlete or prospect.
By expanding the definition of a scholarship agent to a family member, the student-athlete or prospect would be “represented” regardless of whether they knew or not.