Rogers' lawyer: Texting 'stupid decision'

Updated: November 22, 2010, 10:27 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

An attorney for Kenny Rogers says his client knows he made "a stupid decision" when he sent a fellow Mississippi State booster a text of Cecil Newton's payment plan to secure a commitment from his son, Cam Newton, to the Bulldogs.

In a phone interview with The Associated Press Thursday, Doug Zeit says Rogers sent the text after Cecil Newton insisted he do it. Zeit says Rogers sent the text to Bill Bell requesting $80,000 the day after Cam Newton signed with MSU, $50,000 30 days later and another $50,000 30 days after that.

Newton
Newton

Zeit says no money ever changed hands.

The Newtons' attorney, George Lawson, told WSB-TV of Atlanta on Thursday that he is "1 million percent" certain Cam Newton -- who signed with Auburn -- did not take any money. Lawson says if Cecil Newton discussed money, his son "knew nothing" about it.

Lawson told the Atlanta TV station that the Auburn quarterback has not taken any money in exchange for playing college football.

"No money has been offered to Cam Newton," Lawson told WSB-TV. "Cam Newton [hasn't] asked for any money."

Wednesday, ESPN.com reported that Bell, a Mississippi State booster and former player at the school, told the NCAA he received a text message from a man claiming to represent Newton's father, Cecil, that outlined a payment plan designed to bring the quarterback to the Bulldogs.

Bell said Rogers told him Cecil Newton wanted money for his son to play at Mississippi State. Bell told ESPN.com he also shared a series of voice mail messages from Rogers with the NCAA last week. Bell said Cecil Newton never specifically asked him for money, but that Cecil Newton was present during three-way calls in which Rogers discussed a pay-for-play scheme.

Last week, a Mississippi State source told ESPN's Joe Schad that, after Cam Newton committed to Auburn, he phoned another Bulldogs recruiter to express regret he wouldn't be going to Mississippi State, stating that his father had chosen Auburn for him because "the money was too much."

Lawson said the Newtons (Cecil; his wife, Jackie; and Cam) had been interviewed by the NCAA and had been "truthful and candid." He said they will answer "any and all questions."

"Cam Newton knew nothing about any money discussions if any discussions were had," Lawson said.

He said what Cecil Newton told the NCAA has been truthful. Lawson was not asked if Cecil Newton had been involved in any discussions of money with Mississippi State or Auburn.

Bell told ESPN.com he kept Rogers' text message on his old cell phone, which was damaged by water, but he is currently trying to retrieve the text message through his cell service provider.

Bell also said he has recordings of several voice mail messages from Rogers, which he played for NCAA investigators.

"[Cecil Newton] didn't come out and say, 'I want $180,000,'" Bell said. "He inferred it and talked about it, but not directly. Kenny would talk about it in front of him, and [Cecil Newton] never corrected him or said, 'No, that's not what we're doing.'"

Zeit said he did not know whether Cecil Newton participated in three-way calls with Rogers and Bell, but added, "I believe [Cecil Newton] was insistent the calls be made" seeking payment. Zeit confirmed his client met Tuesday with NCAA enforcement representative Jackie Thurnes in person to discuss the Newton case. He said NCAA enforcement rep Marcus Wilson also participated in the interview via telephone.

John Bond, who played quarterback at Mississippi State on the same teams with Bell and Rogers, told ESPN.com last week that Rogers also contacted him about an alleged pay-for-play scheme. Bell and Bond have both talked with NCAA investigators, and Bond met Tuesday with FBI on Tuesday.

Information from ESPN.com college football writers Mark Schlabach, Chris Low and Pat Forde, along with ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad and The Associated Press is included in this report.

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