Champion Auburn visits White House

Updated: July 18, 2011, 11:28 AM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Cam Newton joined his former Auburn teammates Wednesday for one more celebration of their national championship, this time at the White House.

President Barack Obama congratulated the Heisman Trophy winner and the Tigers for their perfect season.

[+] EnlargeAuburn
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez MonsivaisAuburn running back Kodi Burns presented President Barack Obama with a Tigers jersey Wednesday.

"There's a guy named Cam Newton who had a pretty good season and went on to win the Heisman Trophy. So obviously that's really extraordinary," Obama said.

Newton left Auburn after one season and was drafted first overall by the Carolina Panthers in April.

Newton had a record-breaking season in his one year at Auburn, but it was also filled with scandal. His father was found by the NCAA to have peddled his son to Mississippi State for money when Cam Newton was being recruited out of junior college.

Newton ultimately ended up at Auburn and he led the Tigers to their first national championship since 1957, despite all the controversy about his recruitment.

All-American defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who also gave up his senior season to enter the NFL draft not long after Auburn's 22-19 victory against Oregon in the BCS championship game, made the trip to the White House, too.

Auburn was set to visit the White House in late April, but the trip was postponed so Obama could fly to Alabama to survey tornado damage.

"Coach (Gene Chizik) and I were just talking about -- you don't understand the devastation until you see it firsthand," Obama said.

"But what was also inspiring was the amount of strength and generosity that was shown by so many people in the midst of so much tragedy. And that includes the members of this program. Two days after the tornado, almost 70 Auburn coaches, players, and athletic department staff -- led by coach -- traveled to Pleasant Grove and Cullman to help out with relief efforts.

"And even though one of the toughest-hit areas by the storm was the home of the Crimson Tide, this team knew what we all know in situations like this, which is we're all on the same team."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press