Reports: Cam Newton under scrutiny
A man who said he represented Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton during his recruitment out of junior college last year asked for payment to secure his commitment to Mississippi State, according to former MSU player John Bond.
Newton has led Auburn to the No. 3 ranking in The Associated Press poll and has emerged as a Heisman Trophy contender.
"I will say this, very loud and very clear: Cameron Newton is eligible at Auburn University. Period. End of story," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said Thursday night on his weekly radio show.
“We have been made aware of the allegation," Auburn assistant AD for media relations Kirk Sampson said. "Unfortunately, we cannot comment at this time. However, Cam Newton is eligible to play football at Auburn.”
Bond said he went straight to Mississippi State with the allegations.
"During the 2009 football season, I was contacted by a former football teammate, who represented to me that he was speaking for the Newton camp," Bond said in a statement given to several media outlets. "He told me that Cam Newton wanted to play at Mississippi State, but that a specified payment would have to be made.
"I reported the conversation to the Mississippi State Athletic Department," Bond said. "I was told by the Athletic Department that Mississippi State would not respond to the overture that was made to me, and that Mississippi State would continue to recruit Cam Newton as it does any other football recruit."
The New York Times and ESPN.com, which first reported the story, cited unidentified people who said Bond's former teammate Kenny Rogers solicited the payment. Bond played quarterback for Mississippi State from 1980 to 1983. Rogers was there from 1982-85.
The newspaper said Rogers has financial ties to NFL agent Ian Greengross. Rogers has a company called Elite Football Preparation, which holds camps in Alabama, Chicago and Mississippi, and matches football prospects with colleges. Court records obtained by The New York Times show Rogers and Greengross share a joint bank account.
Greengross has not been linked to the Newton investigation.
The NFL Players Association is investigating Rogers’ posing as an NFLPA employee, George Atallah, the players association assistant executive director of external affairs, told the newspaper.
Attempts by the AP to reach Rogers were unsuccessful.
MSU compliance director Bracky Brett refused to comment in a text message. In a statement, the school said "we are comfortable that representatives of Mississippi State University's interests conducted themselves appropriately and in compliance with all NCAA by-laws."
Bond's lawyer, Phil B. Abernethy, said in a statement to the AP that Bond has been interviewed by the NCAA. There have been no specifics about the nature of the NCAA’s investigation or potential consequences.
"The NCAA cannot comment on current, pending or potential investigations," NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an e-mail.
The ESPN.com report said Rogers told Bond that schools "had already offered $200,000" for Newton. But since Newton liked MSU coach Dan Mullen when the two were at Florida together in 2007 and '08, MSU could "get him for $180,000." Mullen was the offensive coordinator at Florida before taking the Mississippi State job after the 2008 season.
Newton's father, Cecil Newton, told the AP that the family denies any allegations and is "cooperating with the investigation."
Cam Newton transferred to Auburn after leading Blinn College to the 2009 NJCAA national championship.
He began his collegiate career at Florida, but transferred to a junior college after the 2008 season. The decision came in the wake of his being charged with burglary, larceny and obstruction of justice after being found in possession of a stolen computer, though Newton has said that he left Florida because Tim Tebow was returning for his senior year.
Newton played sparingly as a freshman back-up to Tebow in 2007.
Newton is ranked third in the country in passer rating and fourth with 1,122 yards rushing. He has thrown for 1,573 yards and 15 touchdowns and run for 14. He vaulted to the top of the Heisman discussion on Oct. 16, when he rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns and led Auburn to 28 fourth-quarter points in a wild, 65-43 victory over SEC rival Arkansas.
Cecil Newton acknowledged to ESPN.com that he knew Rogers, but denied knowing that Rogers solicited money from Mississippi State.
The elder Newton is the pastor of the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance in Newnan, Ga.. City officials there have threatened to demolish the church building this year because it did not comply with building codes. Last week, a Georgia newspaper reported that the church had completed its work and was in compliance.
According to ESPN.com, the NCAA contacted Cecil Newton about a month ago to request financial documents. Newton said he submitted bank statements and other records related to the church.