Finally, someone has gone on the record regarding the alleged pay-to-play scheme reportedly engineered by the father of Cam Newton. And — brace yourselves, Auburn fans — it could have a very negative impact on Newton’s eligibility. Maybe.
Appearing on ESPN 1300 in Dallas Thursday afternoon, Kenny Rogers alleged that he witnessed Cecil Newton tell two Mississippi State coaches that it would take between $100,000 and $180,000 to get his son to sign with the school. Rogers was named by ESPN.com last week as the middleman who claimed to represent the Newton family as he allegedly solicited cash from schools in exchange for Newton’s signature on a Letter of Intent.
During the interview, Rogers made the claim that could spell trouble for Newton’s collegiate eligibility. From the Birmingham News:
Rogers told ESPN 103.3 in Dallas that, on Friday night, Nov. 27, 2009, the night before Ole Miss played Mississippi State, he and Cecil Newton sat inside the Hilton Garden Inn in Starkville, Miss., and discussed where Cam Newton would sign with two Mississippi State football coaches.
Cam Newton was on his official visit to Mississippi State that weekend.
Rogers said that Cecil Newton told the two Mississippi State coaches, whom he would not identify, that State would have to pay between $100,000 and $180,000 to get Cam Newton to sign with the Bulldogs.
(To listen to the interview in its entirety, click HERE.)
Not only is it against NCAA bylaws to accept impermissible benefits, it’s against NCAA bylaws for a player or for a person associated with that player to solicit impermissible benefits. The solicitation of benefits could be considered a violation and could prompt the school to declare the player ineligible, forcing the school to seek reinstatement of the player’s eligibility from the NCAA.
Rogers claimed he was only involved in the alleged pay-to-play scheme when it came to Mississippi State — he’s a former player at the school — and that he has no knowledge of what happened with Auburn, why Cam Newton chose Auburn, or if any money from anyone associated with Auburn was given to the Newton family.
A report that came out recently stated it was Cecil Newton who made the final decision for his son to attend Auburn; it’s believed Cam Newton favored Mississippi State because of his prior relationship with head coach Dan Mullen.
Auburn has very clearly stated in the past that they firmly believe Newton is eligible, although at this point it’s unclear if what Rogers stated today is included in the information they used to determine Newton’s eligibility.
Normally it’s at this point in a post where we’d give you a bottom line on what all of this new information means. Unfortunately, this is as muddled and murky a situation as you will ever come across, with so many tangents shooting off in wildly divergent directions, that it’s a physical impossibility to attempt to divine what could, should or will come out of Rogers’ revelations.
The only certainty? Rogers’ proclamations have the potential to be very damaging for Cam Newton. Maybe. And that certain uncertainty pretty much sums up this whole sordid mess.