FOX Sports Exclusive
Source: Newton left Florida after cheating scandal
Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton had three different instances of academic cheating while attending the University of Florida and faced potential expulsion from the university, according to a source.
Newton, considered the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, attended Florida in 2007 and 2008 before transferring to Blinn College, a junior college in Texas. He first violated Florida’s student honor code by cheating in a class during his freshman year, according to the source.
Newton was arrested for the theft of a laptop from a Florida student’s dorm room in November 2008. He again violated the university’s honor code by putting his name on another student’s paper and turning it in, according to the source. Newton was caught after the instructor asked the real author of the paper why he had not turned in his work, the source said.
According to the source, after the student said he had turned in a paper, he and the instructor went through all the submissions and discovered that Newton had put his name on the paper in question.
Newton subsequently turned in a second paper to the instructor, but it was later found to have been purchased off the Internet, according to the source. The source said Newton was to appear for a hearing in front of Florida’s Student Conduct Committee during the spring semester of 2009 but instead transferred to Blinn College.
The committee could have levied sanctions against Newton that included suspension and expulsion from the university.
“He knew that he was facing a bad outcome,” the source said.
Steve McClain, Florida's Associate Athletics Director for Communications, declined comment in a statement Tuesday morning. "We can't comment on federally protected records," McClain said.
Auburn officials continued to not return telephone messages, text messages or e-mails as of early Tuesday. Newton's father, Cecil Newton Sr., declined to comment on his son’s academic past.
“I wasn’t there,” the elder Newton said. “I cannot confirm or deny. At a time like this, I’m taking a defensive posture."
Florida head coach Urban Meyer responded Tuesday to multiple reports he was the source who leaked this information about Newton's time in Gainesville.
“Our entire focus right now is on preparing for our biggest game of the year against South Carolina," Meyer said in a statement. "For anyone to think that I or anyone on our staff may have leaked information about private student records to the media doesn’t know us very well. It’s a ridiculous claim and simply not true.”
Last month, Newton and his father, a pastor, told Sports Illustrated that the younger Newton decided to transfer from Florida in early January 2009 when Tim Tebow opted to remain for his senior year, a move that would have forced Newton into backup status for another season.
Newton, however, wasn’t even enrolled at Florida for the spring semester of 2009 when he decided to transfer, according to the source.
The revelations of Newton’s academic cheating come less than a week after ESPN.com reported that a man named Kenny Rogers claimed to represent Newton and allegedly sought $180,000 for him to attend Mississippi State. Rogers allegedly told former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond that other schools had already offered $200,000.
The NCAA is investigating that matter. The Newtons and Rogers have denied the allegations.
Auburn has said Newton is eligible, and Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs told USA Today the school has not found any issues with Newton’s eligibility since starting to look in to it this past summer. But he also said that it’s “not a closed matter” and that the review is “still ongoing.”
The dual threat transferred from Blinn College to Auburn in January and has led the Tigers to a 10-0 record and No. 2 rating in the Bowl Championship Series standings. Newton has thrown for 1,890 yards and 19 touchdowns, while also leading the SEC in rushing with 1,146 yards and 15 touchdowns.