November 9th, 2010 08:54 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State
Tags: NCAA, Newton Kenny Rogers, Perhaps Evans, Sports Illustrated
When you reach the top, Americans love nothing more than to tear you down. Are you listening, Cam Newton?
No one was digging up much information on Newton — not in the press anyway — until after he exploded on national TV against Arkansas and LSU. Once he catapulted to the top of the Heisman race and was featured in Sports Illustrated, that’s when “sources” began to speak.
Last week we heard that a representative for Newton was shopping his services to Mississippi State. Rumors also swirled that other schools were involved. The assumption was made by many that he must’ve taken cash to sign with Auburn.
At that point, columnists began to suggest that Heisman voters not cast their ballots for Newton. They reminded readers that Newton had once been arrested for having a stolen laptop in his possession. One of those columnists was FoxSports.com’s Thayer Evans. And now he’s back with more dirt on Newton.
According to a FoxSports.com report from last night, Newton “had three different instances of academic cheating while attending the University of Florida and faced potential expulsion from the university, according to a source.”
In most cases, reporters run with a story if they get a source and a verifying source. Perhaps Evans’ source is so solid he/she needs no verification. (An online report last week suggested that Urban Meyer was behind the Newton-Kenny Rogers story.)
According to Evans’ source, Florida’s Student Conduct Committee was set to hear Newton’s case in the spring of 2009, but the quarterback transferred to Blinn Junior College in Texas before that could happen.
The source said, “He knew that he was facing a bad outcome.”
No one at Auburn spoke to Evans about Newton’s academic past, but I wouldn’t expect them to. The alleged academic violations took place at Florida, not Auburn.
Newton’s father, Cecil, said only: “I wasn’t there. I cannot confirm or deny. At a time like this, I’m taking a defensive posture.”
For those wondering, Newton’s academic issues at Florida have no bearing on his academic status on The Plains. They do not constitute an NCAA violation or bring his eligibility into question.
They do, however, smear Newton’s character further. Obviously folks at Florida — maybe Meyer, maybe others — are tired of seeing their former quarterback thrive elsewhere. They’re also tired of hearing how wrong Florida was to let him go / run him off.
This latest story will no doubt further erode Heisman support for Newton. Worse for the young man, he’ll now go to New York for the presentation and the story of the night will be his character. If I were him, I’d not go. And I’d get the hell out of the college game next spring before another shoe drops.
If these allegations are true, does Newton deserve to be exposed? I suppose that’s the way the game is played. That doesn’t make me a fan of it.
If Auburn boosters or the Newton family are found to have had any shady, illegal dealings, then the NCAA should drop the hammer. But this smear campaign against him? That’s just not my cup of tea. Especially when it’s aimed at a 21-year-old.
Stay tuned. You can bet there’s more to come.
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