Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Cam Newton Thing

We all know that the SEC is a slimepit; coming from an area where the "national" sport of NASCAR espouses a tradition of "if you aint cheatin, you aint tryin," I'm never surprised when I hear of SEC recruiting malfeasance.  However, it's usually not as high profile or as epically ugly as the Cam Newton incident has become.

A quick recap of what is widely "known" or alleged:  that a man claiming to represent the Newton family (Kenny Rogers) approached former MSU players Bill Bell and John Bond, who remain involved with the program, and asked for upwards of $200,000 to secure Cam Newton's commitment to play at MSU.  While it's been said that Cecil Newton (Cam's father) never himself asked for cash from Bell or MSU, he was quoted as having said 'Dan Mullen is going to have to put a smile on my face if he thinks he's going to get my son," "it's going to take more than a scholarship" (to get my son to commit to MSU), and, after Cam's eventual commitment to Auburn, referred to the possibility of Cam playing at MSU as him becoming a "rented mule."  Beyond that, there is Cam Newton's alleged statement that "Cecil, had chosen Auburn for him because 'the money was too much.'"

Despite the mounting evidence that Cecil Newton tried to pimp his son out to a school desperate for talent to gain a foothold in the SEC, the NCAA yesterday reinstated Cam Newton's eligibility.  While it doesn't mean that the investigation is over, or that Cecil Newton won't eventually get butt-plugged by the legal system, it does mean that, unlike the Reggie Bush situation, the sins of the parents are not becoming the sins of the son.

 (Cam's eligibility has been reinstated, but should it have been?)

I'm still not entirely clear how Cam was reinstated (he was declared ineligable for a period of 24 hours before the NCAA "reinstated him") if the investigation continues, but the NCAA seems to believe Cam's story that he had no knowledge of Cecil's plot.  I find that hard to believe.  Cecil obviously had some influence over his son's decision coming out of junior college, and that influence alone should make Cam ineligible.  It's unfortunate for Cam, if he did nothing wrong, but it needs to happen.   If not, than players across the country could be pimped out by parents without their "knowledge," and slowly but surely a system of athletic prostitution will take hold in America.

I generally have no problem with the notion that collegiate athletes should see some increased financial benefits as a result of their increasing financial impact at their respective institutions.  The difference is that the players need to see that benefit, not the parents, and it should be irrespective of the recruiting process.  The above scenario, where a kid decides or is pushed towards a school because he will make more money there as opposed to some other institution, is the nightmare scenario that the NCAA is always trying to prevent.

In the end, I think Cecil Newton should be locked up, Cam Newton declared ineligible, and further inquiries made into the recruiting culture in the SEC (if not the entirety of BCS level football).  If we're going to take these sorts of violations seriously, then let's take them seriously damnit.  The good news, if there is any to be found here, is that MSU didn't play Cecil Newton's game, and that they did what they were supposed to do and alert the authorities.  Maybe the NCAA is banking on that honest streak continuing, but I wouldn't.

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