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NCAA questions pair about Newton Sr.

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Thayer Evans

Senior College Football writer Thayer Evans previously wrote for The New York Times and Houston Chronicle, as well as contributed to The Economist, USA Today, The Washington Post and more. Follow him on Twitter.

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NCAA investigators have interviewed two Atlanta-area men about whether they were asked to or did deliver money to the father of Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton in connection with repairs to Cecil Newton Sr.’s church in Newnan, Ga.

Emory Wilcox and Eddie Norris were separately questioned the week before Christmas by two NCAA investigators, one of which was Jackie Thurnes, the NCAA’s associate director of enforcement.

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Wilcox and Norris, listed on separate city permits for work to be done on Cecil Newton’s struggling Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, each told the NCAA investigators that they were never asked to deliver nor did they deliver money to Newton.

“There may be something there, but nothing related to me,” Norris told FOXSports.com.

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osborn declined comment, citing the NCAA’s policy of not commenting on current, pending or potential investigations.

The interviews are part of the NCAA’s enforcement investigation into the recruitment of Cameron Newton, whose father shopped him to Mississippi State for $180,000 in an attempted pay-for-play scheme.

Earlier this season, Auburn declared Cameron Newton ineligible after the NCAA concluded there was a violation of amateurism rules involving him. But he was reinstated a day later by the NCAA and Auburn agreed to limit his father’s access to its athletics program.

On Monday, Heisman Trophy winner Newton will lead the top-ranked Tigers against the No. 2-ranked Oregon Ducks in the BCS Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz.

Wilcox is listed as the contractor on a city permit issued last April for electrical work at the church. During an interview, he painted a picture of Cecil Newton as a man struggling with the finances needed to keep his church afloat.

“He didn’t appear to have money,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox said Newton told him at one point that he already had spent $12,000 to bring the church up to building code so it wouldn’t be condemned.

But the church, a former building supply warehouse, still can’t hold services because additional repairs are needed to receive a permit for occupancy, Newnan city spokeswoman Gina Snider said. The city’s estimated cost for the repairs needed, including the ones already made, is $50,000, she said.

“A lot more repairs are needed,” Snider said.

Efforts to reach Cecil Newton Sr. through Auburn spokesman Kirk Sampson were unsuccessful as of Friday night.

Wilcox said Newton first called him last April seeking to get some electrical work done quickly to meet a city deadline and said that he got Wilcox’s name from a reference.

Before Wilcox got the permit, he called the man who recommended him to Newton.

“He told me, ‘You better watch him. Don’t let him get ahead of you on the money thing,’” Wilcox said. “His reputation wasn’t too good.”

Wilcox said Newton told him he needed an electrician who could be flexible on payments. Wilcox said he could and agreed to make repairs for $2,000, about half of which would cover material costs.

Wilcox said Newton gave him $300 in cash to get the city permit needed to start the work. Newton promised to pay the remaining $1,700 in two installments, but Wilcox was leery of him.

 

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Wilcox said he and one employee worked one day at the church last April and planned to finish the project the following day. But when they returned that next day, the city of Newnan had posted a stop-work notice on the church’s door.

Wilcox was told by city officials that the work had been stopped because Newton had not complied with city requirements. He called Newton, who pledged to contact city officials.

Wilcox didn’t hear from Newton again until about a month or two ago, when Newton called and told him that the stop-work situation had been resolved.

Wilcox said Newton promised to get back to him soon to arrange for completion of the work, but he hasn’t heard from him since.

“He still owes me money,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox said it was his understanding that the church only has 50 to 60 members, but Newton told him he had grander plans.

“He wanted it to be a big ol’ church with a big daycare center,” Wilcox said. “He wanted to do all this stuff and I’m wondering, ‘Where you going to get all this money?’”

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