Former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing in a pay-for-play scandal, but FOXSports.com has learned that he was briefly declared ineligible before a game against Georgia in the 2010 season.
Auburn compliance officials informed the NCAA that Newton was suspended on Nov. 10, 2010, according to an Auburn official with knowledge of the suspension. A record of the suspension was not in the 32 pages of documents obtained by FOXSports.com because it was communicated verbally to the NCAA, which had launched an investigation into allegations Kenny Rogers, an independent recruiter, and Cam Newton’s father, Cecil, sought as much as $180,000 from Mississippi State to secure the services of Newton.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik told reporters on a conference call on the same day Newton was quietly ruled ineligible that he would play against Georgia. About 24 hours later, Newton was reinstated by the Tigers, who went on to claim the SEC and BCS titles in ensuing weeks.
Newton was ruled ineligible for another 24-hour period a month later by the school after an NCAA investigation concluded Newton had violated his amateur status. Newton appealed and the NCAA reinstated him because it determined he had no knowledge he was shopped for six figures before he committed to Auburn.
Evidence showed that Newton’s father, Cecil, and Kenny Rogers, an independent recruiter, asked for as much as $180,000 from Mississippi State to secure the services of Newton, who played quarterback at Blinn Community College in Brenham, Texas, at the time of his recruitment in 2009.
The document also showed that Newton, who won the 2010 Heisman Trophy and currently starts for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, could have very easily been a Sooner instead of a Tiger. Rogers told assistant coaches at Mississippi State that Newton would attend Oklahoma if MSU "did not make the cash payment."
Seventeen calls were made between Rogers and Josh Heupel, Oklahoma’s co-offensive coordinator, between Aug. 26, 2009, and Dec. 29, 2009. Heupel told NCAA investigators that the Sooners had already started to recruit Newton before his contact with Rogers.
As in the case of Auburn, the NCAA could find no evidence that any solicitation for payment by Rogers or Cecil Newton was ever made to secure Cam Newton’s services in Oklahoma.
The documents also show an email between Rogers and John Blake, a disgraced former associate head coach at North Carolina. Blake allegedly received $31,000 from an NFL agent in a scandal that eventually led to Blake’s resignation in September 2010 and the firing of head coach Butch Davis in July.
“I have 3 kids that love UNC one being the #2 QB in JC football Cameron Newton,” Rogers wrote in an email dated Sept. 23, 2009.