So, the NCAA has ruled that Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton is eligible.
It has also ruled that his father, Cecil, did indeed request money for his son to play at Mississippi State.
From the NCAA press release on the matter:
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.
But since it has not yet been proven that Cam Newton knew of this pay-for-play scheme, he remains eligible, and it is Cecil Newton who is being punished by having his association with Auburn football curtailed (although one has to wonder how much of a punishment that is, considering the younger Newton is likely to declare for the NFL in a matter of weeks).
The effect on Heisman voters will be mixed. By the letter of the law, Newton has been deemed eligible by the NCAA and the path is therefore clear for him to accept the Heisman. But with the pay-for-play scheme now being verified by the NCAA, the spirit of the law is in a precarious position. Voters must swallow the notion that Cam Newton had no idea that he was being shopped around.
Based on the firestorm that has been created today over this matter, this can only hurt Newton’s candidacy. It certainly gives credence to the notion that his recruitment was shady and that his eligibility survives only on a technicality.
Amazingly, some commentators are saying that this ruling takes away any cloud that was hanging over Newton’s Heisman campaign and Auburn’s quest for a national title. But they’re wrong. This makes the cloud worse.
It won’t cost him the Heisman, but I think the taint is building. It could be that allowing Newton to keep his trophy inflicts more damage on the Heisman process than not allowing Reggie Bush to keep his.