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Let's not spoil Auburn's party, OK?
So it turns out that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was ineligible. For a day. And he’s since been reinstated — you know, for now. And everyone — including Auburn — has now stipulated that Cam’s dad, Cecil, did ask for money for his son to sign. At least with Mississippi State. But Auburn didn’t know anything about it. And Cam didn’t, either.
At least as far as we know. For now. So he can still play.
So, party on in the Georgia Dome, with the SEC championship game this week. The hunt for a national championship goes on. But with its investigation still going, the NCAA reserves the right to wipe the whole thing clean down the line. You know. After it’s already happened. The way it always does.
Wow. Could we get any more cynical here? The part-time Alabama PA man — the guy fired for playing “Son of a Preacher Man” (Cecil is a pastor) and “Take the Money and Run” at last week’s Iron Bowl — has to be thinking today, “How am I the fall guy in this?”
Maybe he should have said the music was directed at Cam’s dad, and he figured Cam and Auburn would have no knowledge of it. Isn’t that how this stuff apparently works?
Maybe the guy isn’t really fired. Maybe he was just declared ineligible for a day.
And once again, the NCAA, the body that allows us to perpetuate the myth of amateurism in big-time college athletics, leaves us feeling cynical. If we’re going to pretend something, allow me to really pretend it. Let’s not be so transparent.
The NCAA decided not to ruin the party. Cam Newton can still play and Auburn is still in the hunt for the national championship and we can have all the hoopla and all the money can be made. And then, maybe a couple of years later, the NCAA could still come in and righteously vacate wins and titles. As if anyone who made the money and the spectacle will care at that point. (Come on, it is Auburn, after all.)
I was probably the last guy outside of the state of Alabama to give Cam Newton the benefit of the doubt that maybe he wasn’t being shopped around for cash. But apparently the NCAA is really, really, really giving the benefit of the doubt — yeah, he was being shopped around for cash. But the kid didn’t know about it, so he’s clean.
(Actually, that is my crackpot theory in the Reggie Bush case. He came home for the weekend one day and said, “Um, Mom? Why do we have a new house?”)
That’s your precedent, your standard of proof? Do you know how many of Pandora's boxes that opens?
But actually, that precedent has long been set at NCAA offices. That’s standard NCAA M.O. It’s the same theory that allows us to say it wasn’t the head coach who knew anything. Every NCAA violation in history was the work of some lone, rogue assistant who took the fall. Then we all go back to normal. Party on.
So go for it. Ask for the world. Just don’t let your student-athlete in on it. (Besides, he’d probably sign for an Xbox or something. Kids are terrible negotiators.)
“In determining how a violation impacts a student-athlete’s eligibility, we must consider the young person’s responsibility,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs. “Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement. From a student-athlete reinstatement perspective, Auburn University met its obligation under NCAA Bylaw 14.11.1. Under this threshold, the student-athlete has not participated while ineligible.”
Um … yeah. You know what I’m picturing? I’m seeing Cecil Newton as Vince Vaughn in Old School. Whenever he wanted to curse around his kid: “Earmuffs!”
That’s going to be the defense for every case like this for years to come. Earmuffs.
So, nice loophole. This allows the circus to go on and all the spectacle to be had, and all the money to be made, and then ... the NCAA reserves the right to creep back two years later and vacate it.
But the NCAA will have had its party. And its righteous indignation. It will have had its cake and knocked it over, too.
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