On Wednesday the NCAA, in conjunction with the SEC, announced the Auburn junior is eligible to play for the Tigers. The NCAA and Auburn found that the quarterback's father, Cecil Newton, and another man tried solicit illegal benefits from Mississippi State. There has been no finding that Newton himself or Auburn have violated NCAA rules as the NCAA investigates his recruitment by Mississippi State.
The NCAA report stated: "According to facts of the case agreed upon by Auburn University and the NCAA enforcement staff, the student-athlete's father and an owner of a scouting service worked together to actively market the student-athlete as a part of a pay-for-play scenario in return for Newton's commitment to attend college and play football. NCAA rules (Bylaw 12.3.3) do not allow individuals or entities to represent a prospective student-athlete for compensation to a school for an athletic scholarship.
"In conjunction with the case, Auburn University has limited the access Newton's father has to the athletics program and Mississippi State has disassociated the involved individual."
After a complaint by USC's athletic director, Pat Haden, and questions about the Newton decision in the media, the NCAA issued a statement to try to help uninformed media gain a better understanding of what actually happened in the case.
The following is the NCAA statement:
Many in the media and public have drawn comparisons between recent high-profile NCAA decisions while ignoring the important differences among the cases. There is a purposeful distinction between determining student-athlete responsibility through an eligibility decision and university culpability through the infractions process. Universities are accountable for rules violations through the infractions process.
Student-athletes are responsible for rules violations through the eligibility process.
Reinstatement decisions are independent of the NCAA enforcement process and typically are made once the facts of the student-athlete's involvement are determined. The reinstatement process is likely to conclude prior to the close of an investigation.
"The enforcement staff investigates all types of rules violations," said Julie Roe Lach, NCAA vice president of enforcement. "Some of these investigations affect student-athlete eligibility and others do not. The investigation does not stop with a student-athlete eligibility issue, but school officials must address it as soon as they are aware of the violations."
The NCAA looks at each student-athlete eligibility decision based on its merits, because no two are identical. 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.
"As the reinstatement staff reviews eligibility cases, we must review each case based on its own merits and the specific facts," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs.
"During the decision, we must examine a number of factors, including guidelines established by our membership for what conditions should be applied based on the nature and scope of the violation. We also carefully consider any mitigating factors presented by the university to determine if relief from the guidelines should be provided."
While comparisons may be human nature, they should at least be made based on the facts.
The Newton family attorney said on Thursday that he and the Newton family met with NCAA officials and Auburn officials two weeks ago and Cecil Newton admitted in that meeting that he had discussed the possibility of receiving extra benefits for his son to attend Mississippi State, which was part of the NCAA's Wednesday report.
Newton and his Auburn team will play on Saturday at the SEC Championship Game vs. South Carolina at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.