Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What to Make of the Cam Newton Ruling

If you've missed all the background information on the Cam Newton saga, I suggest you check here to get caught up.

The consistent reaction, among those connected to NCAA football, to the Cam Newton story today (Which YouCantPlayHere featured over an hour and a half earlier than ESPN) was one of surprise and confusion. Why would the NCAA rule Cam ineligible on Monday only to have its ruling overturned by the reinstatement committee because of lack of evidence on Wednesday? Why would they release a statement worded so that it made it seem like a temporary eligibility ruling during an ongoing investigation? Why not wait until that investigation was completed? Why admit that a violation of the amateurism rules occurred and then have no punishment?

Most of the answers reside only in the minds of the NCAA officials involved. However, there are a few points to address. 

First, it seems like the NCAA has hedged a good bit with this ruling. They word the announcement to make clear that the investigation into the Cam Newton allegations is ongoing, and that new evidence unearthed by that investigation can negate the ruling that he is eligible. We all know that the NCAA works at a snail's pace when they are investigating allegations against their member schools. Joe Schad stated on the Finebaum radio show that the NCAA investigators had not even finished interviewing all the parties involved yet. Given their past, it would be astonishing if the NCAA was able to finish an investigation within the span of a month, and it is pretty obvious that this case is still ongoing (It even says so in the NCAA press release). 

The most likely reason
Second, the NCAA enforcement division is a separate entity to the reinstatement council. So, in effect, there can be two conflicting decisions. The reinstatement council is basically the appellate wing of the NCAA, and their ruling will stand (Until any new evidence is passed along from the ongoing investigation). 

Third, the most important decision will come from the NCAA enforcement department. This will occur after the season when the investigation is concluded. They will be able to look at the entirety of the case and decide whether Cam has knowingly violated the NCAA's amateurism rules. If they decide that he has, Auburn would be forced to vacate all of the wins he participated in. The NCAA has become famous for these "ineligible after the fact" rulings. 

Lastly, the most important thing to remember in this situation is that the NCAA and the BCS have a huge monetary interest in having Cam Newton eligible and ready to play in the BCS Championship game. The simplest explanation is that the NCAA ruling Cam eligible was a business decision since they knew they could correct it after the season is over. Ruling Cam ineligible after the season is a win win because everyone will have already gotten rich.  

Let's move on to some links and other issues surrounding the whole Cam situation

This story is a must read. Damon Stoudamire was suspended by the NCAA for the actions of his father even though the NCAA admitted there was no evidence Damon knew about those actions. So why is Cam getting off the hook for not supposedly not knowing about what Cecil Newton was asking for? Your guess is as good as mine.

This story from Rivals on Yahoo has some great quotes about the repercussions from today's ruling. 
“The NCAA just gave cover to every middle man in the country,” Vaccaro said. “The kids never know. In all my years, I’ve never heard of a kid being involved in the negotiation. You think they ask? Of course not. Their mom asks. Their coach asks. Their cousin asks. This is crazy.”
“That’s the most messed up ruling I’ve ever heard,” one major college assistant coach said Wednesday. “They can ask every school for money and then someone will bite on it. And then if they get caught for asking they can just say the kid didn’t know.” 
Another interesting point made by Joe Schad on the Finebaum radio show today

This in relation to the article Schad wrote detailing a MSU recruiter's claim that Cam called and apologized for choosing Auburn but that the money was too much. What is different here from the NCAA's precedent in the Stoudamire case? The NCAA was willing to take the word of a disgraced agent, that they were already investigating for separate issues, as their only evidence. If a MSU recruiter actually made that claim, as Schad says, shouldn't that be enough? 

Still left to be explained is how Cam Newton ended up at Auburn if Cecil Newton was orchestrating a pay for play scheme at MSU. Cam made a rushed visit to Auburn and then committed there a few days later at his father's urging. So, are we supposed to believe that Cecil just wanted money from MSU? Would he have really pressed a pay for play scheme on MSU and then quickly decided that Cam should go to Auburn for free?

It just seems like the NCAA has completely gotten lost in its quest to ensure that all of its athletes are amateurs. 

As stated before, a player can be ruled ruled permanently ineligible for taking money to pay for his education (basically a scholarship) from a European basketball team.

The James Paxton story is just another example of the NCAA's ridiculous decision-making. 

Only the NCAA would see the Cam Newton situation as less of a risk to amateur status than getting a scholarship or having a lawyer present at a contract negotiation. 

More Cam Newton Links

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