The NCAA recently reinstated Cam Newton while rumors continue to swirl about his possible involvement in a pay-for-play scheme to play college football.
With the USC sanctions fresh (and harsh) in everyone's minds, many individuals, including Athletic Director Pat Haden, have called into question how he can be eligible while Reggie Bush was not.
Said Haden, "In the Reggie Bush case, when the parent [did] something inappropriate, the kid and the school suffered."
But how exactly do the two cases relate?
Before we dive into each case, one must remember that, pending an appeal, the NCAA has concluded their investigation of Reggie Bush and USC. The NCAA and the FBI are involved in the Cam Newton allegations and we have only touched the tip of the iceberg with Cam and Auburn. Details are limited at this point and are likely to come out in the coming months to years.
The findings by the NCAA on Reggie Bush based on Reggie as the assumed student-athlete:
1. Marketing and a sports agency were agreed upon by Reggie's stepfather and an agency partner.
2. Round trip transportation was provided for Reggie's parents and brother to attend the Orange bowl by an agency partner. His family was also provided round trip airfare and accommodations in 2005 for a California game by sports marketers.
Are the Cam and Reggie situations similar?
3. Reggie was provided cash by an agency partner for the down payment, rims, car alarm, and an audio system on a new vehicle. This is key: Reggie is found by the NCAA to be personally involved.
4. Hotel accommodations and a limo were provided for Reggie by agency partners.
5. Reggie's parents entered into a written agreement for a monthly sum to purchase a property in Spring Valley as well as utilities, furniture, and a washer and dryer. Reggie would pay the agency partner back with money from his professional contract.
6. It was acknowledged by USC that he received some (but not all) of the above benefits directly. USC agreed he was ineligible for competition during this time frame.
7. A sports marketer paid to have Reggie's Chevrolet Impala repaired after an auto accident.
Other allegations involving USC and other athletes also led to the severe sanctions but are not pertinent to this article.
The NCAA findings so far on Cam Newton:
The only real fact we have at this point: Cam's father and an owner of a scouting service worked together to actively market him in a pay-for-play scenario to colleges.
Also within the NCAA's statement is the following:
"Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time [my emphasis], we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement," said Kevin Lennon.
Otherwise, the NCAA stated it is "policy not to comment on current, pending, or potential investigations."
1. Reggie Bush was found by the NCAA to be involved in several NCAA violations. This was not just his family accepting money and benefits.
2. So far, Cam Newton has not been found by the FBI or NCAA to be personally involved in the pay-for-play scheme. But he has not been cleared by either party. There was just insufficient evidence at this time to prevent him from playing.
If, at the end of this, Cam is found eligible but his father is guilty, this will set up a situation that could serve as a dangerous precedent. It will send the message that you just need a third party involved and the student-athlete will not suffer consequences.
It is still entirely too early to say whether or not USC has a case here. They have good reason to be interested in the similarities of the two cases. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.