Posted on: November 4, 2010 6:07 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2010 6:45 pm

Report: Cam Newton being investigated by NCAA

Posted by College Football Blog staff

In what could possibly be the defining story of the season, Pete Thamel of the New York Times tweeted Thursday evening that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was under investigation by the NCAA.  

This could be the most potentially devastating news to Auburn, who could find themselves without the heart and soul of their team should the investigation warrant any type of suspension. Newton, widely considered the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, has had a phenomenal season for the Tigers.  He leads the SEC in rushing, rushing touchdowns, and is second in total offense.

According to ESPN, the crux of the matter concerns Kenny Rogers (no, not him) (not him either), a former teammate of Mississippi State assistant coach John Bond, who allegedly approached Bond trying to acquire $200,000 to secure Newton's commitment out of Blinn JC last year. Here's the full statement by Bond, released to the Clarion-Ledger minutes ago:
“During the 2009 football season, I was contacted by a former football teammate, who represented to me that he was speaking for the Newton camp.  He told me that Cam Newton wanted to play at Mississippi State, but that a specified payment would have to be made.  I reported the conversation to the Mississippi State Athletic Department.  I was told by the Athletic Department that Mississippi State would not respond to the overture that was made to me, and that Mississippi State would continue to recruit Cam Newton as it does any other football recruit.”
To MSU's credit, it doesn't sound as if that school has anything to worry about in the coming investigation. As for Auburn, well, that'll depend on what the NCAA finds in the financial records of Cecil Newton, who is Cam's father and the pastor of a church recently under scrutiny for not meeting building codes and needing extensive renovation. Unsurprisingly, Newton's parents categorically deny any involvement:
"If Rogers tried to solicit money from Mississippi State, he did it on his own, without our knowledge," Cecil Newton said.

"If you've ever seen our church, you'd know we don't have any money," said Cam Newton's mother, Jackie. "We have nothing."
It's important to note that Newton has not been declared ineligible as yet, and this is an NCAA response to a claim made by an opposing coach, as good-faith as the claim appears to be. If there's no unusual financial activity by Newton's parents and their church, there's likely nothing to the investigation (or, at the very least, Rogers didn't think it would cost $200,000 to make Auburn worth Newton's while). At any rate, the next couple weeks are going to be awfully interesting down at Auburn.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 12:04 pm

OSU confident no violations to come

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While Oklahoma State has already announced that wide receiver Justin Blackmon will be suspended for this week's game against Kansas State following his DUI arrest on Monday , and Blackmon has issued an apology, there still is the question of how Blackmon came across the tickets to Monday night's Dallas Cowboys game at JerryWorld.

JerryWorld is an expensive place to see a football game, one of the most expensive in the NFL, and given all the troubles going on throughout college football about contact between players and agents, it's a natural question to ask.  How did Blackmon get those tickets, and will it result in any kind of NCAA violation for the school?

Well, at the moment, the school is pretty confident that Blackmon did nothing wrong to acquire the seats.
Dallas Cowboy tickets are believed to have been provided to Blackmon and his friends by the father of a former OSU player. Cowboy athletic director Mike Holder would not comment on the Blackmon situation, but OSU sources indicate that athletic department officials are confident that no extra-benefit NCAA violation has occurred.

Which may be true, but considering everything Oklahoma State went through with Dez Bryant last season -- who happens to be a former OSU player that plays for the Cowboys, but this is just my brain connecting dots -- the last thing they want is the NCAA sniffing around campus right now.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 12:42 pm

Lawsuit seeks to alter NCAA scholarship policy

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The fundamentals of the NCAA's scholarship policies regarding major college football have been in place for a while now: no more than 85 players on scholarship at a time, no more than 25 new scholarships issued in a year, each scholarship must be renewed after each year.

According to former Rice student and football player Joseph Agnew (and at Rice, it's fair to apply both those terms), it's those policies that led to his football scholarship being "canceled" in the wake of an Owl coaching change. Which is why he's filed a class-action lawsuit in an effort to force the NCAA to change two of them:

The lawsuit accuses the NCAA and its member schools of violating federal antitrust laws and asks the court to rule the NCAA's limit on scholarships and prohibition of multi-year grants unlawful. It also asks for a jury trial ...

"The NCAA is reviewing the allegations," the NCAA's Bob Williams said in an e-mail to USA TODAY. "However, it should be noted that the award of athletic scholarships on a one-year, renewable basis is the more typical approach taken within higher education for talent-based and academic scholarships in general."
Agnew's argument is that if Rice either had more than 85 scholarships to distribute or didn't have the option to leave his scholarship unrenewed, he would still be at Rice. If the suit is successful, the NCAA could be forced to either increase or abandon the 85-scholarship limit on FBS rosters, or allow programs to offer recruits multiyear packages that would eliminate the need for an annual renewal.

Either development would change the face of college football as we know it. Remove the limit of 85, and rosters at the sport's "football factory" programs return to the pre-limit days of 100-plus scholarship players, sucking much of the parity out of the game; allow schools to offer multiyear packages and the pendulum could swing the other way, as smaller schools willing to take a chance could offer academic- or character-risk prospects four-year guarantees larger programs might not be willing to extend.

The potential impact makes this a story that must be followed as it proceeds through the courts. Unfortunately, this blogger is certainly no lawyer and has no idea how much merit the suit carries. (Though he can say the "academic scholarship" analogy drawn by the NCAA doesn't appear to hold water; academic scholarships have specific performance requirements spelled out in writing for their renewal, whereas football scholarships can be annulled simply on the head coach's whim, a key difference.)

That the suit hasn't drawn more attention to date suggests that it may not come to much, but until we know for certain, it's possible that a previously unheard-of former defensive back from Rice could become one of the most important figures in college football.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 25, 2010 2:26 pm

NCAA, NFL bigwigs convene for agent crackdown

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Give the NCAA and the NFL this: it sounds like they're legitimately trying to find a solution to the lax enforcement rules that turned this past August into one long "Player Suspended After Agent Gives Him Stuff" headline and North Carolina into college football's biggest cautionary tale.

Because if they aren't trying, last week's NCAA-sponsored conference on "agent issues" convened an awful lot of big names for them to not try together. Representing the NFL: Director of Football Operations Merton Hanks , two of his Vice Presidents, Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian , Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay , and two representatives from the NFL Players Association. Representing the NCAA: conference commissioners Mike Slive and Jim Delany , American Football Coaches Association executive director Grant Teaff , and a whole host of high-ranking NCAA officials. Agents from several high-profile sports management firsm were on hand as well, including none other than the dean of college head coaching agents, Jimmy Sexton .

So what did the meeting of this many powerful minds accomplish? They're not telling us just yet :

[The attendees] continue to make progress in identifying potential solutions.

The group has identified opportunities for greater collaboration, including enforcement efforts, potential post-NCAA financial penalties, best practices for the effective enforcement of state agent laws, educational efforts, as well as an examination of the frequency and timing of agent contact with student-athletes.

The only truly telling detail in that last paragraph is "potential post-NCAA financial penalties," a nugget that could potentially mean an NFL suspension or NFL-imposed fines when a player enters the draft. Knowing that whatever cash and benefits a player took today could cost him double that in falling post-suspension draft stock or fines might be a successful deterrent, and in any case would provide stronger negative reinforcement than simply being tagged with nebulous "character issues" ... issues that this month's Sports Illustrated cover story on the subject suggest are shared by nearly every top-tier player eligible.

Unfortunately, whatever strategies the group (which will meet again next month) might recommend, it's going to take a while to put them into practice; according to this release , the NCAA won't be able to change its related legislation until January 2012. Judging by how widespread the practice of illegal benefits seems to be and how big a black eye the NCAA's notions of amateurism has absorbed from them this fall, it might do the NCAA good to find some way of expediting that process.

But whether change comes in the short term or the long term, whether that change proves successful or not, bringing together power-brokers with as much pull as Hanks, Slive and Delany, and Sexton shows that the organizations involved aren't just paying the problem lip service. Now we'll see if they've got enough pull to make a difference.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 11:44 am
Edited on: September 22, 2010 11:46 am

Bryant Gumbel calls out the NCAA

Posted by Tom Fornelli

There are a lot of things the NCAA does that I don't agree with.  For one, I've always been a proponent of the players in football and basketball actually being given their rightful piece of the billion dollar pie they've baked for the NCAA.  Yes, I know, they get full scholarships and monthly stipends, but that's nothing compared to what those players have given the NCAA.

When it comes to punishments the NCAA hands out, I often feel as though they're on a witch hunt, kind of like what's going on with the agent probe spreading throughout college football today.  It's a sentiment that Bryant Gumbel seems to agree with, as he had some pointed comments for the NCAA at the end of the latest Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO.

"Finally tonight, a few words about crime and punishment. I'm no legal expert, not by a long shot, but I do believe that driving drunk, robbing a convenience store, and hitting your girlfriend are all worse offenses than dealing with an agent. Most people would agree with that I think except, it seems, the folks in charge of college football.

How else to explain the fact that the USC Trojans are currently on NCAA probation while the Florida Gators are not, even though Florida's program has seen 27 different players arrested during the short tenure of Coach Urban Meyer. That's right, by NCAA standards, 27 arrests merit not so much as an official reprimand. But dealing with a prospective agent prematurely, as former Trojan Reggie Bush did, gets your program punished for four years.

It's not just about USC. NCAA investigations are ongoing at the Universities of Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina for the same kind of premature conversation with agents that Bush had. And it's not just about Florida. Players at Pittsburgh, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Southern Mississippi, UCLA and elsewhere have also been arrested this year. But all of those programs are, by NCAA standards, in full compliance.

Look, no one's naïve enough to think football's ever going to be played by a bunch of choirboys. It's not. But you'd think that NCAA officials could, at the very least, give coaches and athletic directors a reason to be as diligent about illegality as they are about eligibility - and right now they don't. Until and unless they do, the NCAA's idea of institutional control is anything but."

It's a very good point.  Why is it that one is punishable and the other is not?  In the Bush case, an entire program is being punished for the action's of one student.  Yet, in Gainesville, 27 players have committed actual crimes and not even a slap on the wrist.  Sure, players have been suspended for games, which hurts the team, but until the NCAA steps in and actually hands out real punishment for the programs then coaches have no real motivation to curb the behavior.

Now I now it's impossible for a coach to keep his eyes on every single player he has on his team, and things are going to happen.  I'm not saying that if one player is dumb enough to pick up a DUI that scholarships should be taken away, but if there's a pattern of such behavior and arrests then there needs to be some kind of reprimand for the school and possibly the coach.

It might not be right, but at least it'd be fair.

Posted on: September 14, 2010 6:05 pm

NCAA's new prez Emmert has eye on enforcement

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Ever heard of Mark Emmert? Probably not, but that's about to change. Emmert, currently the University of Washington president, was named the NCAA's next president, and Emmert will assume the role in October. He's got a lot of work ahead of him.

Principal among Emmert's concerns, according to an interview he gave with the USA Today, is enforcement, and rightly so; every vacated win, championship appearance, or Heisman Trophy is a black eye for an organization that has tasked itself with preserving athletic amateurism at all costs.

There's an important point to be made here, that Emmert's focus is on enforcement and not, say, legislation; Emmert hasn't talked about adding new rules nearly as much as putting more heat on offenders of existing rules, and this shift in priorities will almost certainly extend to the staff structure itself:


Emmert wouldn't rule out a reduction in the NCAA's staff of almost 500, paralleling cost-reduction efforts at many individual schools. But he was emphatic Tuesday that any such measures wouldn't extend to enforcement

That staff, Emmert said, "potentially" could grow.

Responding in part to the concerns of conference commissioners, the NCAA has beefed up enforcement efforts in men's basketball in particular. It broke off three investigators two years ago to focus solely on the sport, and is putting three new investigators on the team this month.

Of course, Emmert's efforts will likely be insufficient (or, at the very least, certainly more inefficient) if he can't remove the incentives or dramatically increase disincentives for misbehavior in the first place. Agents still pursue athletes while they're in college because it still makes good business sense. Coaches still figure out a way to get money into players' and AAU coaches' hands because in the unlikely event that they're caught, they can still count on having a job, either at the school or somewhere else. That's Emmert's primary challenge, right there.

Category: NCAAF
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