Commentary

NCAA investigation sparks questions

Originally Published: November 5, 2010
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

The NCAA is investigating allegations that a man who said he represented star quarterback Cameron Newton sought as much as $200,000 from college football coaches to secure Newton's signature on a national letter of intent. At the time, Newton was attending a two-year junior college in Texas.

Former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond told ESPN.com that a former Bulldogs teammate sought $180,000 in exchange for getting Newton to enroll at Mississippi State. The former teammate was identified by sources as Kenny Rogers. Newton's father, Cecil Newton, told ESPN.com that if Rogers sought money from Mississippi State, he did so without the family's knowledge.

How long will the NCAA investigation last? How will it affect Newton's eligibility? Here are some of the answers:

Q: What does this mean for Auburn?
A:
Auburn officials say Newton is eligible to play for the No. 2 Tigers, but declined to comment on the allegations. Auburn has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Q: What is the NCAA's role in this?
A:
Mississippi State officials made the Southeastern Conference office aware of Rogers' request in January. SEC officials said they didn't receive credible information regarding the allegations until July, and they informed the NCAA of potential rules violations. The NCAA has interviewed Bond and other Mississippi State officials, and requested financial documents and other personal records from Newton and his family about a month ago.

Q: How does an NCAA investigation work?
A:
After a possible violation is discovered, an NCAA investigation begins with sending a letter of inquiry to the NCAA member school's president or chancellor. The NCAA's enforcement division will interview potential witnesses and review other information, including telephone records, transcripts and bank records to determine whether the allegations are credible. The NCAA does not have subpoena power, so it relies heavily on witness statements. A typical NCAA investigation can last months, even years. For more on the NCAA's enforcement division and its process, log on to NCAA.org.

Q: Are there any Heisman Trophy implications for Newton?
A:
Newton is the clear front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy, after passing for 1,573 yards with 15 touchdowns and running for 1,122 yards and 14 scores. It's unlikely the NCAA's investigation will be completed before Heisman Trophy ballots are due early next month, so Newton will be eligible to become the school's third Heisman Trophy winner.

Q: Were any other colleges involved in recruiting Newton?
A:
Newton originally signed with Florida in 2007 out of high school, but left the Gators after the 2008 season. After playing the 2009 season at Blinn College, Newton was recruited by Auburn, Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Mark Schlabach covers college sports for ESPN.com. He co-authored Bobby Bowden's memoir, "Called To Coach," which was published by Simon & Schuster. The book is available in stores and can be ordered here. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com.

Mark Schlabach | email

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