NCAA investigators talked on Tuesday to Kenny Rogers, one of the central figures in the controversy surrounding Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. Meanwhile, former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond was interviewed by the FBI.
Auburn QB Cam Newton with former Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson/AuburnUndercover.com photo
Rogers and Bond were teammates at Mississippi State in the early 1980s. The controversy erupted after Bond told ESPN.com that Rogers had approached him last December about getting money to deliver Newton to Mississippi State. Rogers said he was acting in behalf of Cecil Newton, Cam’s father.
AuburnUndercover.com reported Saturday that Cecil Newton admitted his role in a meeting with NCAA investigators in Auburn last Thursday.
Alabama graduate assistant Jody Wright, director of football operations at Mississippi State last season, was interviewed Monday by NCAA investigators about allegations that Cecil Newton, Cam’s father, sought money to deliver him to Mississippi State last December.
The NCAA investigation is seeking to determine if Newton, the runaway favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, should remain eligible to play for No. 2 Auburn, which will close the regular season at Alabama on Nov. 26.
Rogers met for several hours with NCAA investigators in Chicago.
According to a report in USA Today, Rogers’ lawyer, Doug Zeit, said Rogers pointed the finger at Cecil Newton. Cam’s father, but that he told investigators he’d had no contact with anyone at Auburn.
Rogers met for several hours with two NCAA investigators in the Chicago office of his attorney, Doug Zeit.
According to Zeit, Rogers repeated to the NCAA the allegations he made on a Dallas radio station last week that Cecil Newton Sr. wanted up to $180,000 for his son to commit to Mississippi State.
“Nobody’s pointing a finger at Mississippi State for doing anything wrong,” Zeit said. “And Kenny has said, ‘I had no discussion with Auburn regarding Cam Newton or anybody affiliated with him.’ He said, ‘I don’t know if Auburn has or has not done anything wrong.’ He’s not pointing a finger at them.”
Following are questions and answers about the ongoing saga:
Q: Will there be a decision this week?
A: We expect movement of some kind by the end of the week. It could be that Cam Newton is cleared to play out the season. It could be that the NCAA recommends he be held out for the Iron Bowl as the investigation continues. It could be the investigation goes on and there is no recommendation to hold him out. Making no recommendation that he be held out is tantamount to clearing him to play, as was the case last week.
Q: If the NCAA recommends Newton not play, is there any chance Auburn plays him anyway?
A: No chance whatsoever. To do that would be to invite a full-blown investigation and potential sanctions. It won’t happen.
Q: Is Auburn’s program being investigated by the NCAA?
A: It is not and probably won’t be unless there is evidence Newton got extra benefits from Auburn.
Q: What is the FBI’s role?
A: The FBI is apparently investigating whether federal laws were broken by any offer to deliver a football player for money. Rogers is apparently central figure in that investigation. The FBI has no interest in who is eligible or not.
Q: If Newton is ineligible, will Auburn be forced to vacate victories?
A: It’s possible, though not automatic. That decision would come in an entirely different process than deciding if Newton is eligible.
Q: Could Mississippi State be in trouble?
A: It would certainly seem that Mississippi State would be called on to explain why, if Cecil Newton had asked for money on Nov. 27, it continued to recruit Cam Newton all the way until Dec. 31 and didn’t report the request for money until January, after he had signed with Auburn.
Q If Auburn didn’t offer or give Newton any money, could it still receive sanctions?
A: No. Victories in games in which he played could be vacated, but that would be the extent of it. Auburn can’t be sanctioned for something that happened at Mississippi State.