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Attorney: Rogers made 'stupid decision' with text

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

An attorney for Kenny Rogers said Thursday 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 his son's commitment to the Bulldogs.

"I'm not even sure Kenny completely understands why he did it," Doug Zeit told The Associated Press. "The best I can tell you is Cecil Newton made a few calls insisting that he do it, so Kenny went ahead and sent the text message."

Zeit confirmed 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.

Zeit says no money ever changed hands.

"I can't tell you what Cecil Newton was thinking," Zeit said. "What I do know is he told Kenny Rogers that it would take $180,000 to sign his son, and he told him 'This is how I want it done.'"

Cam Newton eventually signed with Auburn, and the Heisman Trophy candidate has the second-ranked Tigers in contention for the national championship.

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

"No money has been offered to Cam Newton. Cam Newton hasn't asked for any money," Lawson said in the report. "Cam Newton, Cecil Newton and Jackie Newton have participated in the ongoing NCAA investigation. They have been truthful and candid with the NCAA."

The attorney added, "I don't think there's any question that Cam Newton knew nothing about any money discussions, if any money discussions were had."

John Bond, a former Mississippi State quarterback, said in January he had been asked for $180,000 to secure Cam Newton's commitment to Mississippi State and informed MSU officials. Zeit told the AP that Rogers contacted Bond and left a voice message, but the two never had a conversation.

Rogers told a Dallas radio station last week that he, Cecil Newton and two Mississippi State assistant coaches met in a Starkville hotel on Nov. 27, 2009, when Newton first mentioned the pay-for-play plan. Mississippi State has said all of its employees acted properly.

Bond was interviewed by the FBI on Tuesday, according to his attorney Phil Abernethy.

Zeit said his client has not been contacted by the FBI, but would cooperate with any investigation. He confirmed Thursday that the Mississippi Secretary of State's office wants to interview Rogers, though a date has not been set.

Lawson also said that Florida should expect to hear from him regarding a report on Cam Newton's academic status at that school. Cam Newton was on the verge of expulsion after three instances of cheating at Florida, before he decided to transfer to Blinn (Texas) College, FOXsports.com reported last week, citing an unidentified source.

"Cam Newton's grades and academic standings at the University of Florida are protected matters. And to the extent that the University of Florida has violated a federal statute, I have some understanding of what the University of Florida's address is and at some appropriate time they'll hear from me," Lawson said.

Florida coach Urban Meyer has said he didn't leak any academic information on Newton and neither did anyone on his staff, and called the claim "ridiculous" and "simply not true."

The pay-for-play scandal surrounding the Newtons has shaken college football and could impact who wins the Heisman Trophy and the national championship.

The allegations have cast a dark shadow over an otherwise dream season for Newton and No. 2 Auburn (11-0), which has clinched a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game. The Tigers are in the middle of an off week, before their next game against No. 10 Alabama on Nov. 26 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.