Auburn has not received an official letter of inquiry in this matter. That means it hasn't crossed the line from eligibility issue to infractions case.
It's always possible that new information can come to light, but consider the expert opinion of Montgomery attorney Donald Jackson, a frequent opponent of the NCAA in eligibility cases.
"If there was a big fire here, this ruling wouldn't have happened," Jackson said.
Multiple Chicken Littles have cried that the ruling opens a loophole bigger than Nick Fairley's belt loops, that greedy fathers everywhere have been given license to become auctioneers before signing day.
Please. If Newton were playing at Mississippi State when the NCAA found his dad and his dad's accomplice had shopped him there, do you think he would keep playing at State without missing a snap?
If the NCAA found that Cecil Newton or Rogers got paid by anyone on his behalf, do you think Cam Newton would've been declared ineligible but reinstated almost immediately without conditions?
Of course not. The NCAA can't sit a player based on suspicion, and a school shouldn't. Based on the evidence, Auburn and the NCAA got this one right.
If the NCAA punished School A because a father solicted money from School B (and no money changed hands and school A didn’t even know the solicitation took place), now you have another slippery slope where the possibilities are endless. If I’m a recruiter at school B and lost a recruit to school A, when the head coach starts chewing on my butt I can just put it out there that the parent solicited money from me and get school A in trouble and take the heat off me.
The fact is that on Wednesday the NCAA issued a very narrow ruling in an area where there is a gap in its legislation. We know that the mere solicitation is a violation of amateurism rules, which is why Auburn had to suspend Newton on Tuesday. An NCAA representative told me the knowledge, or the lack thereof, of the athlete is a “mitigating factor” in whether or not the athlete is eventually reinstated.
But can you punish a school that is not involved in that solicitation simply because the athlete chose that school? Do you at least have to have evidence that the school did something wrong? Eventually, the NCAA will have to get some clarity on this issue.
Now could the facts on the ground change? Could there be evidence uncovered in the future that contradicts the current findings of the NCAA enforcement staff? Of course.
But the NCAA can only make its ruling based on what it knows today. Because of the unique nature of this case, the NCAA owed it to everybody involved to get some kind of resolution if it was possible. Thus, Newton is eligible to play on Saturday against South Carolina.
You should all be embarrassed. You know who you are, the great unwashed of the gotta-get-it, gotta-have-it, hyperbole-fueled world.
The same suckers that listened with bated breath while LeBron James explained where he’d “take my talents” next season, are also the gullible lemmings who jumped on the "let’s ride Cameron Newton out of college football" train because perception supersedes reality.
Did Newton take money from Auburn or Mississippi State or anyone associated with those universities? No, the NCAA says, he didn’t.
In the everlasting struggle of perception vs. reality, perception goes down like a tall, cold glass of sweet tea. Reality, meanwhile, gets upchucked at every turn.
I’ll refer to the great sage of the 21st century, Josh Bynes, when reflecting on the three weeks of Newton Nonsense.
“Even if you guys were told the truth, you wouldn’t believe it,” said Bynes, Auburn’s star linebacker. “The truth doesn’t sell.”
Sadly, I’m beginning to believe him.
because Newton was playing for Auburn, because he was the game’s best player and was leading the Tigers on an unthinkable journey to the national title game, well, that must mean he knew of the deal, took the money and would leave Auburn in shambles after the NCAA found out months or years later.
Opinions formed along blurred lines, the gap between truth and innuendo filled with whatever was easiest to run with.
There’s only one problem with this tale: It didn’t exactly play out the way television pundits and talk radio gabmasters, and message board mongers and truth-seeking journalists thought it would. It’s now complete, and whaddya know, Cam Newton is eligible to play.
Save the sanctimonious pleas that the NCAA should have penalized Newton for his father’s actions. Shove them in the same barf bag as the holier-than-thou grandstanding of Heisman Trophy voters proclaiming Newton hasn’t won with “integrity.”
He has, however, won after his team gave up a 24-spot on the road in the toughest place to play in college football. But instead of celebrating all that Newton has accomplished on the field, the truth-seekers are caught up in a swirling drainpipe of what-ifs and could-bes and you-never-knows -- and there’s nowhere to go but right down the sewer.