Cam Newton: Oh, the Humanity!

The knashing of teeth is audible to a level that will drive the most sound-sensitive folk absolutely crazy.

The curious case of Cam Newton is reaching a zenith of self-righteousness on the eve of the SEC championship game Saturday in Atlanta where Newton will lead Auburn against the upstart Gamecocks of South Carolina.

Cowbell Newton The bulk of public opinion seems to say that Newton and Auburn should be punished because Newton knew what was happening all along and money changed hands. Or, at least, some law, bylaw, or rule must have been broken. Or, the powers at be are withholding information because Auburn is undefeated and on the doorstep of the national championship game. Or, some fanciful theory.

What’s known is that Newton’s father used a third-party to shop his son in a “pay-for-play” scheme – he used a person with financial ties to an agent to shop his son to Mississippi State. That seems enough over which to hang somebody.

The problem that seems to upset the apple cart of the folks that would like to burn somebody at the stake are the facts and the lack of facts in evidence. The solicitation was with a school that (1) rejected the proposed payment for play, and (2) Newton did not attend. Furthermore, and more importantly, there is no reported evidence that Newton’s father received any money, and there is no evidence that Newton had knowledge of the shady shenanigans.

Some like to bring up the SEC bylaws. For background, here’s the SEC bylaw raised into question:

“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 this Conference (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 Conference for the remainder of his/her college career.”

SEC spokesperson Charles Bloom sent an e-mail to The Clarion-Ledger, a newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi, to explain the Newton case regarding this bylaw.

“SEC Bylaw 14.01.3.2 does not apply in this situation. It only applies when there is an actual payment of an improper benefit, or an agreement (such as a handshake agreement) to pay and receive an improper benefit. The facts in this case, as we understand them, are that the student-athlete’s father, without the knowledge of the student-athlete, solicited improper payments (which were rejected) from an institution the young man did not attend, and that the institution where the young man is enrolled was not involved.”

The NCAA weighed in with this.

“In the Cam Newton reinstatement case, there was not sufficient evidence available to establish he had any knowledge of his father’s actions and there was no indication he actually received any impermissible benefit. If a student-athlete does not receive tangible benefits, that is a different situation from a student-athlete or family member who receives cash, housing or other benefits or knowingly competes and is compensated as a professional athlete.”

The crusade against Newton and Auburn also likes to bring up other cases as parallels, including those of Reggie Bush, Damon Stoudamire, and A.J. Green. Bush and an assistant at USC were found to have direct knowledge about ‘extras’. It was found that Stoudamire’s father received ‘extra benefits’. And, it is known that A.J. Green received money from sales of his jerseys.

Thus, these matters seemingly do not provide the appropriate parallels to bolster the case of the masses.

It is commonplace for the public to express outrage about many things, including jury verdicts for lawsuits. The Cam Newton matter is not a lawsuit, but it is about facts, or lack thereof, in evidence, and rules. After having sat on a jury and witnessing the presentation of facts and the testing of those facts in a court of law, it is a complex process, open to argument. Laws are complicated and open to interpretation. In the end, the jury is left with the facts in evidence.

Judges and juries make mistakes, with respect to ‘the truth’, that are in part due to lack of due process, and perhaps less than acceptable quality exhibited by those formulating and presenting arguments. I wouldn’t be surprised that the SEC and the NCAA have made mistakes with respect to their investigations of potential recruiting violations and other sundry matters.

But, we – the self-appointed judge and jury for the Cam Newton matter – are left with the facts in evidence. This matter is not over – the NCAA is likely to continue its investigation of those with connections to Newton’s recruitment. But for now, there is no smoking gun, there is no demonstration that the glove fits. There is no justifiable reason to punish Newton or Auburn. For now.

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3 responses to “Cam Newton: Oh, the Humanity!”

  1. Jan Evett says :

    After the Iron Bowl I posted on facebook that I think we will one day see Cam’s true colors. I got a LOT of flack for that comment! Or maybe it was because I referred to my Auburn friends as “Barners” – not sure what got those folks so upset! HA!

    But … I saw a lot of bravado in Cam’s attitude before, during, and specifically after the Auburn win. No humility, no embarrassment over his father’s willingness to play let’s make a deal – and I assure you that my 20-something “kids” would have been mortified if I had made a public spectacle like that!

    So…. I’m sticking with my comment – one of these days I think we’ll see his true colors – and maybe those colors will be flawless, shining bright – and if that’s the case then good for Cam – and if those colors aren’t so pure then that’s fine with me, too.

    On the other hand, I’m feeling really queasy about pointing fingers at anyone on another SEC team for inappropriate behavior (or attitude for that matter) when I suspect the eyes of our competitors are going to be fixed on the Vol’s coach during the round ball season. Some of your readers probably know a lot more than I do about that story, so what do y’all think?

    • norcalvol says :

      Pearl lied to NCAA investigators. Only after being presented with the knowledge that the NCAA had, he admitted to lying. He was caught red-handed. Then, the University levied their penalty, including a hefty salary reduction and restrictions on travel/recruiting. Then, the SEC levied their penalty – an eight-game conference-game sideline ban. Now, we’re waiting for the NCAA to give their penalty. I expect probation from the NCAA.
      Pearl’s transgression was not the infraction he committed – by all indications it was a very minor infraction. Pearl got in trouble when he tried to cover it all up. The cover up is almost always worse than the infraction – that was certainly the case with Richard Nixon. The burgalry was one thing; the cover up led to a constitutional crisis and ultimately to his resignation.
      One can argue if Pearl’s penalty fits Pearl’s ‘crime’. But, apparently the facts were ‘put into evidence’. Pearl’s attempt at a coverup was unearthed when those facts were presented to him, leading to Pearl disgracing the University.
      The Newton matter – at this point – is different. Perhaps new evidence will come to light. Perhaps we will find out all kinds of nastiness. But, perhaps we won’t.
      The presumption of innocence until proof of guilt is in order, I think. If events happened that transgressed SEC or NCAA rules, then I hope these are discovered and the appropriate penalty is levied – perhaps stripping a national championship and a Heisman trophy might be in order.
      But so far, the interpretation of the facts as I have prersented them doesn’t seem to point to rules transgressions and the need for penalty.

      • tk says :

        “PEOPLE HAVE GOT TO KNOW WHETHER OR NOT THEIR BASKETBALL COACH IS A CROOK. WELL, I AM NOT A CROOK.”………THANKS DICK

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