Should Cam Newton Have Been Suspended By The NCAA?

Now that the offseason is here, we can talk about some hot-button issues. Starting with the hottest one, which is the questionable eligibility of one Cameron Newton.  Since the topic is hot right now, let's talk about it.

Our main man Larry Scott (and Big Ten crankypants commish Jim Delaney) were very critical of the ruling to reinstate Newton:

Scott noted that he did not know all the details of the case, but said: "I know there’s a concern out there about consistency and fairness application and the expectation to take an abundance of caution in looking at these cases. That’s my understanding of the way that schools and conferences are to operate."

Here is part of the official NCAA ruling:

Auburn University football student-athlete Cam Newton is immediately eligible to compete, according to a decision today by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff. The NCAA concluded on Monday that a violation of amateurism rules occurred, therefore Auburn University declared the student-athlete ineligible yesterday for violations of NCAA amateurism rules.

When a school discovers an NCAA rules violation has occurred, it must declare the student-athlete ineligible and may request the student-athlete’s eligibility be reinstated. Reinstatement decisions are made by the NCAA national office staff and can include conditions such as withholding from competition and repayment of extra benefits. Newton was reinstated without any conditions.

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.

 

What are your thoughts on the Cam Newton issue?

Avinash: Here is the SEC bylaw that was invoked to keep Newton eligible.

Here’s the way it reads:
"If at any time before or after matriculation in a member institution a student-athlete or any member of his/her family receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or assistance beyond or in addition to that permitted by the Bylaws of this Conference (except such aid or assistance as such student-athlete may receive from those persons on whom the student is naturally or legally dependent for support), such student-athlete shall be ineligible for competition in any intercollegiate sport within the Conference for the remainder of his/her college career."

So why then is Cam Newton not ineligible, according to SEC bylaws?

The SEC’s explanation is that there was no evidence that Cecil Newton ever agreed to receive money, only evidence that he solicited money.

What does everyone else think?

Kodiak: Yes.  Absolutely.  No question.  He should have been suspended.

The NCAA is revealing/embodying an ugly truth:  they are a mostly toothless, hypocritical and corrupt governing body that exists solely to line their own pockets.  If not for FIFA, they would win whatever sleaze or sleaziest award you might imagine.  They're letting Cam Newton play now in order to boost ratings.  After the season, they'll come up with some type of penalty under the pretense of being tough on crime.  News flash:  you ain't fooling anyone. 

Berkelium97: I'm no lawyer, but I would argue that Cecil Newton violated that bylaw.  Whether or not some money is agreed upon is beyond the control of Cecil Newton. Regardless of any future agreement of terms, he has taken action to indicate that he is willing to agree to some terms involving the exchange of money. By taking this initial step to set up a possibility for agreement of cash exchange, Cecil Newton has effectively broken the bylaw.

Of course, that would mean the admittedly entertaining Auburn offense would probably not make it to the championship game (or at the very least, certainly wouldn't be competitive),so the NCAA has brushed this under the rug for the sake of ratings and revenue. 

TwistNHook: If Auburn didnt make it to the Championship Game and TCU slipped in there, Stanford would go to the Rose Bowl.  They still might (and this is being written the day before the BCS Selection Show, so perhaps this will all be rendered moot), but I am of the opinion that the NCAA is a modern American hero. 

The NCAA is the hero we need AND the hero we deserve. 

Berkelium97: If it truly were the hero we need and deserve, the NCAA's sanctions against USC would have given us the retroactive 2004 Pac-10 title along with joyous memories of a triumphant Rose Bowl win on January 1st, 2005.

Avinash: Twist, what's your legal thoughts on this case?

TwistNHook: Are there any legal ramifications or is this solely within the confines of the NCAA's jurisdiction?

Avinash: I don't know. Perhaps the closest parallel would be the Reggie Bush case. Does anyone remember what the NCAA ruling was there?

TwistNHook: Well, I think it is important to keep separate things separate.  The NCAA has jurisdiction over amateur collegiate sports.  It is unclear to me what, if any, jurisdiction state or federal civil courts have.  The NCAA can punish USC and/or Reggie Bush independent of anything relevant to a state or federal court.  And they did so. 

As such, I would not use the word "legal" as I am not sure it is relevant to this situation here. 

This article has more info:

Slight Legislative Change
Legislation could be proposed that would address the exact situation in the case. Specifically, Bylaw 12.3.3, the bylaw cited by the SAR staff, could be editted to read something like this:

12.3.3 – Athletics Scholarship Agent.
Any individual, agency or organization that represents a prospective student-athlete or his or her parent(s), guardian(s), or immediate family for compensation in placing the prospective student-athlete in a collegiate institution as a recipient of institutional financial aid shall be considered an agent or organization marketing the individual’s athletics ability or reputation. (additions in bold)

Major Legislative Change
An alternate new version of Bylaw 12.3.3 may read very similarly, but would have a much greater impact:

12.3.3 – Athletics Scholarship Agent.
Any individual, agency or organization that represents a prospective student-athlete or an individual associated with a prospective student-athlete for compensation in placing the prospective student-athlete in a collegiate institution as a recipient of institutional financial aid shall be considered an agent or organization marketing the individual’s athletics ability or reputation.(additions in bold)

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