The more the NCAA talks about Camgate, the more confused I get.  Here’s what President Mark Emmert had to say in his extraordinary defense of the decision to declare the player eligible:

“We recognize that many people are outraged at the notion that a parent or anyone else could ‘shop around’ a student-athlete and there would possibly not be repercussions on the student-athlete’s eligibility,” Emmert said in a statement.

“I’m committed to further clarifying and strengthening our recruiting and amateurism rules so they promote appropriate behavior by students, parents, coaches and third parties. We will work aggressively with our members to amend our bylaws so that this type of behavior is not a part of intercollegiate athletics.”

What I get from that is there are no repercussions for Cecil Newton’s behavior, but that there should be.  Yet here’s this comment from a lower-level official:

… Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president for academic and membership affairs, said there have been numerous cases resulting in the same type of ruling: a restoration of eligibility after a school declares a player ineligible following a rules violation.

“We did find a violation of our bylaws, and I wouldn’t want that to be lost,” Lennon said. “The reinstatement of a student-athlete begins with his or her culpability and other mitigating factors are looked at: Were benefits actually received, and what was the nature of the benefits?”

It’s nice that he doesn’t want the message that there was a finding of a violation to be lost, even though that’s the exact result of his organization’s ruling in the matter.  The whole idea that we’re supposed to accept Emmert’s hand wringing at face value is what’s at the heart of the criticism the NCAA faces.  If Emmert thinks the amateurism rules need strengthening, whose fault is that?

There are two things I don’t understand here.  First, if the SEC and the NCAA couldn’t satisfactorily resolve the inherent conflict they faced trying to find an appropriate punishment regarding Cecil Newton that didn’t affect his son or Auburn, what makes them think they’ll be able to draft something going forward that will be more effective?  Neither of them has any authority over friends or family members and if they don’t want to penalize the parties over whom they do have authority when “culpability and other mitigating factors are looked at”, what’s the point of coming up with any new bylaws?

But here’s the thing I really don’t get:  somehow, I’m supposed to believe that Cecil Newton is smart enough to game the system to confound two of the shrewder groups of people on the planet, but not smart enough to profit from it.  Does that makes sense to anyone not named Mark Emmert or Mike Slive?


UPDATE: You know it’s a sketchy call when Jim Delany comes off sounding like the voice of reason.


Filed under SEC Football, The NCAA

45 responses to “Loopholed.

  1. heyberto

    This was just a bunch of lawyers being lawyers if you ask me. Its like they went out of their way to make sure Cam wasn’t punished. I wonder how A.J. Feels about all this?

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      What this really means is that UGA (or the former UGA AD) has/had no pull at the SEC or NCAA. This Newton thing was fixed from the beginning–as soon as it surfaced. That’s why Auburn acted the way it did.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        BTW the reason what the NCAA types say is so hard to make sense out of is because it is all just a lie, said to justify what they did for ulterior motives that they cannot admit. Bunch of liars.

  2. TennesseeDawg

    So all you need is a booster and a parent and anything goes as long as they don’t have any evidence the school or player are directly involved.

    • Marmot

      Yes, anything… as long as no extra benefits are received and the athlete doesn’t attend the boosters school…. but other than that you are right.

  3. Turd Ferguson

    The title of this post should be the same as the post above it: “It’s money that they love.” That has to be one of the worst attempts to cover an organization’s ass I’ve ever seen. As far as I can tell, the bylaws are already pretty clear, and they make no exception for whether or not Newton was aware of the fact that his dad was violating them. (And for the record, I think you’d have to be crazy to actually believe that Cam was clueless.)

    The NCAA is just inventing this exception in order to ensure that one of their biggest money-makers this year is back on the field, and in so doing, creating the ginormous loophole that everyone is now talking about.

  4. JBJ

    I could understand the NCAA position if Cecil was estranged from Cam. However, this is not the case. This is such a ridiculous decision I can’t believe there is not more outrage.

  5. Reggie

    So… Cecil is dirty as the day is long, his “church” a corrupt money laundering operation, Auburn is a consistent and flagrant violator of the rules for decades and Cam is a proven thief and probably, academic cheat.

    The alleged massive rules transgression is admitted by the perpetrators, backed up by text messages and other evidence, and yet somehow we just stop digging into it at the point where the money changed hands on Auburn’s behalf because little angel Cammie says he knows nothing.

    OK. Nothing to see here, move along please.

  6. Doug

    I wonder if the Newton’s and Auburn’s lawyers threatened some legal action if they suspended Cam for something his Dad asked for but did not receive? I’ve heard that the NCAA is worried that someone might take them to court over whether the current system is legal. For example, do employment laws apply to student athletes, do they have the right to collective bargaining, etc..

    • Bryant Denny

      I just don’t think that’s it. I don’t think the NCAA backs down over that.

      If that was the scenario, NCAA would rule him ineligible, AU would sue, he’d be re-instated and then the hammer would fall in the next 2-3 years.

      Who knows what will happen now? One thing is for sure, though, for the next two games he’s not only All In, he’s also All Clear.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        It actually occurred to me at the time that UGA should have sued the NCAA over the AJ jersey sale situation and gotten a TRO/injuction allowing AJ to play. AJ Green got suspended for 4 games and UGA was penalized by losing his services for doing something that AJ has a perfect right to do legally. The injunction would have protected UGA from having to forfeit any games if the suit was resolved unfavorably and AJ could have played. I think the suit would have been meritorious. If the NCAA passes a rule that says a player cannot wear his hair long or cannot have a tattoo is that enforceable? There are limits to what those assholes can forbid players from doing and the NCAA needs to be shown those limits in court. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  7. The Realist

    But… Cam, Auburn, Mississippi State, and Cecil all admitted that it was Cecil’s decision where Cam would sign. So the person making the decisions was also the guilty party. Whether Cam knew or not is irrelevant. What is he, like five? He can’t stand up and be a man and make his own decisions? Of course not, because “the money was too great.”

    A = Cecil asked Mississippi State for money; they refused
    B = Cecil asked Auburn for money; they “took care of business”
    C = Cam enrolls at Auburn

    A + B = C

    The NCAA is admitting both A & C, citing A as a breach of amateurism rules, but they refuse to believe (to this point) B. It makes more sense that someone blatantly flaunting the rules as Cecil did with Mississippi State would suddenly “find Jesus” about the NCAA’s bylaws. And, his son enrolls in one of the most sanctioned, dirtiest programs in NCAA history, including a number of pay-for-play schemes throughout the 80’s and 90’s. But, he chose it because it’s close to home? WTF?

    • Actually, I’ve seen a plausible theory of Cecil’s behavior that excuses Auburn. Let’s say that Auburn was Cecil’s choice from the beginning as the school best suited to develop his son’s talent, but that Cam really wanted to play for Mullen. Cecil decides that he’ll give Cam his wish, but wants to be compensated for not getting his (Cecil’s) way. When MSU turned him down, Cecil went back to his first choice all along.

      I still think this is going off on a tangent with regard to the NCAA’s decision, though. Using your logic chain, A is all that should have mattered here. This call shouldn’t have been about Auburn. It should have been about Cecil Newton. That’s where the NCAA and the SEC have screwed the pooch badly. And I’m not sure how they get the genie back in the bottle without looking even worse. They’ve almost got to hope that something bad does turn up to give them cover when they attempt their fix.

      • Bryant Denny

        SportsbyBrooks has a great article today about the two mystery MSU recruiters. He wonders if the recruiters might be Mr. & Mrs. Mullen.

        Good read.

        • Scorpio Jones, III

          Damn, BD “Every time I think I am out, they pull me back in”

          Wonder if Layla Kiffin was involved in the recruiting of Bryce Brown?

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        After spending way to much time reading this stuff it is obvious to me that there was almost certainly something going on that was a serious violation of all sorts of rules, whether that involves Missy State or Auburn or both, at this point while there is significant smoke, nobody has enough proof there is a fire.

        Say what you will about the folks at the SEC and NCAA, they are not dumb enough to believe their wild scrambling in the last few days is enough to convince even Cam’s momma there is nothing going on.

        And, in fact, that wild scrambling just reinforces, to me, that there is a fire, and the only way the NCAA can do anything to get even a semblance of its reputation back is to find the proof.

        I suspect Doug is correct about some sort of legal pressure on the NCAA, the sudden moves would indicate that to me, anyway. The NCAA is by its very nature a sluggish organization, moving this fast indicates that something has made this case very different from any other case, and I don’t believe it is ONLY the time frame and upcoming games, although that probably does factor in.

        The Senator’s suggestion the NCAA almost has to: “hope that something bad does turn up to give them cover when they attempt their fix.” is, to me, slightly off. What I suspect is that the NCAA knows there is something bad out there, they just can’t prove it yet, which would make them vulnerable to legal pressure.

        In the meantime they felt some serious pressure to at least appear to postpone any final ruling till all means of proof are exhausted.

        Don’t forget the guy running the NCAA has not really finished moving into his office yet.

        • Julie

          All the NCAA has now done is to provide Auburn with the blueprint of how to get out of sanctions concerning payoffs that were made. Even if Bobby Lowder, undoubtedly Auburn’s most notorious booster, made payments of $80,000/$50,000/$50,000 as were laid out in the “payment schedule” provided by Cecil Newton, and there was a paper trail leading straight to Cecil’s church, all the Auburn Athletic Department has to do is to deny any knowledge that these payments occurred, and they will be exonerated. If it can be argued that Cam knew nothing about his father’s shakedown, how simple it will be for Auburn to deny knowledge of payments made by a booster.

          In addition, since MSU went above Slive’s head and reported all this to the NCAA, this will most certainly be their version of The Celebration, and Wagers, Curles, etc. will have a treasure trove of phantom calls in store for them in 2011 and beyond.

      • Ausdawg85

        Correct…let’s suspend with whether or not B happened. The question goes back to “What did Auburn know, and when did they know it?” I thought the timeline was that MSU reported Cecil’s overtures to the SEC immediately. Did Slive’s office notify Auburn before Cam signed? Enrolled? Played a game? Played UGA? Bama? Wait, just this past weekend????

        In the best case scenario, Auburn did a quick internal investigation, believed their was no exchange of money on their behalf, asked and believed Cam if he had any knowledge of daddy’s misdeeds, and concluding they were “clean”, went all-in and continued to play him anyway while the NCAA played catch-up to the investigation.

        Well, maybe they can finally settle on a mascot…the fighting gonads.

  8. Daniel Simpson Day

    AJ’s mom should have sold his jersey…and not told him, of course.

  9. Normaltown Mike

    I was a marginal student (at best) during my 3 yrs of law skool, but I’m going to offer up something that might help President Emmert in amending and strengthening the bylaws:

    “If at any time before or after matriculation in a member institution a student-athlete or any member of his/her family receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or assistance beyond or in addition to that permitted by the Bylaws of the NCAA (except such aid or assistance as such student-athlete may receive from those persons on whom the student is naturally or legally dependent for support), such student-athlete shall be ineligible for competition in any intercollegiate sport within the NCAA for the remainder of his/her college career.”

    Would that cover the situation?

  10. Go Dawgs!

    Well, I mean, Cecil’s not going to be getting free tickets to see his son play (the last two) football games, games which are going to be available on broadcast television, so … yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty harsh penalty, Senator. Not being able to see your son play football (in person) anymore (unless you just scalp a ticket)? Not being able to go into the locker room after? Trust me, nobody’s going to risk that kind of punishment by trying to shop their kid for money (without their knowledge, of course).

  11. Normaltown Mike

    And another thing. I know its not kind to speak ill of the dead, but if Rich Whitt hadn’t written his (accurate) hatchet job on Mike Adams, that SOB might be head of NCAA right now.

    Would he have handled it differently? Hell if I know. But he does have a slavish devotion to following rules.

    INTEROFFICE MEMO: We can’t get rid of Adams if the whole world knows we hate him. Better we praise his fearless leadership so that he’s hired away.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      I had that same thought, but I quickly realized he would have also been involved in AJ’s mistake.

      And that would be a “gulper”.

  12. Kevin

    Here’s what I don’t get.-

    Why did they declare him ineligible at all? It’s obvious from the abrupt 24hr turnaround that they did not believe he was as fault and therefore ruled eligible again. So why every make him ineligible?

    You mean to say they DID break the rules? but then you try and tell me he DIDN’T break the rules 24 hours after you all agree he DID?

    Someone assplain plz.

    I think the NCAA would be far better off if Cam was never ruled ineligible in all this. I mean, ppl would still be bitching about it but at least there wouldn’t be this double standard or contradiction.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Lip service to following the rule. Then they used the “fact” that “Cam didn’t know” what his Daddy was doing as a mitigating factor to allow his reinstatement–only they allowed his reinstatement soon enough (1 day) where he did not miss any games.

  13. Again. If I was related to someone like Mettenberger, I would be out shopping his A$$ around. Without his knowledge of course. But, Is that possible ? . Maybe so, but I question that too.

  14. Bright Idea

    Cecil likely got a verbal IOU from some booster. If he actually collects later and if the NCAA finds out remains to be seen. Either way, we’ll hear more about it eventually. There is no way Cecil keeps his mouth shut if he does not collect. If he does collect, the money trail will surface.

    • Macallanlover

      Little Cammie will be able to pay Daddy’s bill,s and make all the IOUs good in the near future. If there is no money trail at this point, there won’t ever be one.

  15. Jerry Hinnen would like a word with you.

    • I read Jerry’s piece. As always, it’s very well written.

      The difference between him and me on this – and it’s completely understandable – is that Jerry’s viewpoint is that of an Auburn supporter who doesn’t feel that the school should be punished for Cecil Newton’s transgressions, while I’m looking at it strictly from the standpoint of the NCAA failing to support a principle which it loudly and quite often proclaims that it holds near and dear, amateurism.

      In other words, Jerry’s coming from the position that Auburn did nothing wrong and therefore shouldn’t pay a price. I’m coming from the position that Cam Newton’s dad violated an NCAA regulation of some importance and no price is being exacted for that.

      • What should the punishment be then?

        Who should be punished?

        Who should pay?

        I am not asking that in a snarky voice, I am serious.

        Assuming the facts are as the NCAA says they are.

        (obviously if money changed hands, especially if the money is coming from Auburn, then the hammer should come down or if AU participated in a cover up)

        • Assuming that what we mean by punishment are NCAA-leveled sanctions, I think at a minimum Cam should have been suspended as a result of being declared ineligible as a result of Cecil’s violation.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            At minimum for the game where Auburn first knew of an existing problem forward. My own opinion is that it should be retroactive and Auburn should have to forfeit each game in which Cammie played.

            • Even if, as the fact finder found here, that Cam and Auburn had no scienter?

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                It’s sort of like vicarious liability. Responsibility is a given. The rule is explicit that whether the player or a family member is involved, the result is the same. The reason is that it would be next to impossible to prove that the player was involved even if he was. The parent does the solicitation and gets caught. The parent clams up, the player clams up and you cannot prove the player was really behind it. Using the vicarious liability hypo what the NCAA did was to say that, even though you are responsible by law when your employee runs over someone in a crosswalk while in the course and scope of his employment, we’re going to let you off this time because you weren’t driving yourself and didn’t know that the delivery was going to be made that day. Turned the whole concept on its head.

        • Normaltown Mike

          Sorry to interject, but shouldn’t Cam?

          “such student-athlete shall be ineligible for competition in any intercollegiate sport within the conference for the remainder of his/her college career”

          seem like Cam should.

        • Hackerdog

          According to past NCAA precedent, Cam Newton should be punished. He was shopped around, which means he loses his amateur status.

  16. gernblanski

    My guess is that the mitigating factors here are $$$ and timing. The SEC does not want their championship weekend ruined by the best player in the conference/nation ruled ineligible and being held out of the game – which might cost Auburn a chance at the BCS championship.

    I suspect that if these allegations had been fully investigated before the season and the same findings held – Cecil shopped Cam to Miss St., Cam didn’t know, and there were no evidence Auburn knew or paid the Newtons, then the punishment may have been the same or possibly just one game. Do you really think that Auburn would have lost to Ark. St with Cam out of the lineup? Even if they were forced to forfeit that game now for using an ineligible player, Auburn would still be SEC West champions – playing Sat for the title against SC. The difference would be with 1 loss, they may be on the outside of the BCS championship.

    Of course, if Cam had been ruled ineligible back in August, then the SEC could be stipulated that he could play of any conference team. But with the benefit of knowing how the conference’s marquee teams completed the year, I suspect that Slive was probably quietly lobbying for Newton’s reinstatement.

    • Comin' Down The Track

      Two things:
      1. The BCS does not want Oregon, a largely West Coast school with minimal national interest, and TCU, a tiny fan base soaking wet, in their cash cow ad sales Championship Game. (Plus, there’s the added bonus of all this free pub for Auburn to gin up interest/controversy which we all know is their bread and butter. If you don’t think they’re weighing in on this, you’re high).
      2. That money is there somewhere. Try as we all might to remain objective and just view the facts, you know it’s there and I know it’s there. Find it. If the FB of I is interested, can the IRS be far behind? That’s how they got Capone. It ain’t sexy, but it’s effective.

  17. I'm Georgia

    AJ was caught because of his bank records. Sounds to me we need to change our handbook for incoming players – if you’re gonna take it (and they will), take cash only and bury it in mason jars out back.

    Our players can’t manage to stay legal to driver but can manage a checking account. Who knew.

  18. almightytmc1

    I read jerry’s piece and I love the absolute assurance to it.
    As far as he and the Aub Fambly are concerned this one is done and dusted.
    Yet I read articles from the New York times, the Washington Post, etc.. etc.. and you just know this is not going to go away.
    The media wants a scandal and they will have it.
    I don’t feel sorry for Auburn. God knows they cut every corner to win that they can. If its not chop blocking your best lineman, its spearing your QB.
    Auburn disgusts me. They will do anything to appear to be as good as their neighbors and they clearly aren’t.
    Someone posted above that Auburn would be a better TV draw than Oregon or TCU. Not really.
    Auburn is a mid tier team that cant fill its own stadium half the time.
    I know the refs and the NCAA will never allow it. But it would be utterly sweet to see the Auburn War Eagles lose in the SECCG.
    It would be justice for hiring the worst Coach in the history of Iowa State, A high School OC. Ted Roof. A pay for play QB and a fatass cheap shot dumbass like Fairley. Just seeing the absolute pain on thier face would make me happier than a perv in a whorehouse.

  19. 69Dawg

    Lost in all of this is the FBI. They don’t care about student-athletics, they care about bank fraud. I’m not sure the FBI could or would let the NCAA know anything about what they have found prior to a completion of their investigation into Colonial Bank. This could very well be another USC type time period. The information becomes public, the NCAA finally gets it’s info and the hammer falls. Auburn will eventually be found to be guilty or innocent but trust me the old we didn’t know will not be a defense when the hammer falls.