The NCAA press release this morning makes Cam Newton immediately eligible after only one day of ineligibility for the violation of amateurism rules.
The NCAA stated, “According to facts of the case agreed upon by Auburn University and the NCAA enforcement staff, the student-athlete’s father and an owner of a scouting service worked together to actively market the student-athlete as a part of a pay-for-play scenario in return for Newton’s commitment to attend college and play football. NCAA rules (Bylaw 12.3.3) do not allow individuals or entities to represent a prospective student-athlete for compensation to a school for an athletic scholarship.”
Auburn University (No. 1*) has limited Newton’s father's access to its athletics program.
The NCAA stated that they did not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or Auburn were aware of this activity based on the information available.
Of course, after a four-year NCAA investigation USC received football sanctions in the form of 30 lost scholarships, two years of bowl ineligibility and 15 wins vacated retroactively, including the National Championship game (among others) because Reggie Bush’s father arranged payments from a family friend and associate who wanted to represent Bush when he left USC for the NFL.
The NCAA investigation, hearing and sanctions were flawed as discussed in “Ten Reasons Why USC Football NCAA Sanctions are Not Fair.” The NCAA failed to meet any reasonable burden of proof that USC knew about the Bush family payments, just like Auburn claims to have had no knowledge of Newton’s father shopping his son.
Apparently it makes a big difference being in the SEC.
The NCAA wrapped up the Newton investigation in no time compared to the over four years for Bush's case, and the punishment was the opposite of the harsh sanctions levied on USC, which were justified by many because they sent a message.
In this case, the NCAA is sending a message to encourage parents and friends of future stars to conduct business in a similar manner.
The NCAA also recently ruled that two North Carolina football players were permanently ineligible, and one of them played in four games for the Tar Heels this year; yet, none of those games were vacated.
USC's Athletic Director Pat Haden said he was "surprised" and that is a huge understatement. Maye now the Trojans will have a more aggressive response to the NCAA since their double-standards have been so blatantly exposed.
An Associated Press article discusses the USC reaction including a tweet from one player, "USC mostly holding tongue on NCAA's Newton ruling."
Today on ESPN's PTI show, both Tony Kornheiser and his partner, Mike Wilbon, both blasted the hypocracy of the NCAA regarding the Cam Newton affair. Kornheiser said that "nobody with any sense believes that Cam Newton, the son, didn't know anything about his father shopping him around the SEC." He went on to say that the "SC AD would be on the phone to the NCAA immediately." Mike Wilbon called the NCAA "a Cartel" (which is illegal in the U.S.) and went on to say this was all about money.
The NCAA made in clear in the USC case that the child is responsible for the actions of the parent. Bush was deemed retroactively ineligible before he was involved based on the NCAA's belief that his father had reached a verbal agreement. This was based on only the testimony of a felon who had a conflict of interest. It resulted in vacating two USC wins including the national championship game in January 2005.
It is alleged that Cam Newton told his Mississippi State recruiter that his father Cecil had chosen Auburn for him because "the money was too much." This was discussed previously in the Rivals.com article, "Miss. State sources name Cam Newton in pay-for-play scheme, and the gloves are off."
This does not mean that the Bush and Newton family violations are the same. However, a man selling his son’s services for $180,000 has to merit more than this.
P.S. A great article summarizes this mess from Bill Dwyre of the LA Times on December 2, 2010: "Little Reggie, Little Cam and the NCAA."
Here is comprehensive information about the NCAA vs. USC for those interested in the details.
*Week 14 BCS poll