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NCAA ends probe into Auburn, clears Tigers, QB Newton

Former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, right, had his college commitment shopped to Mississippi State by his father, Cecil, according to a report last year by the NCAA.

Former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, right, had his college commitment shopped to Mississippi State by his father, Cecil, according to a report last year by the NCAA.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The NCAA said it found no major violations committed by Auburn regarding Cam Newton or other pay-for-play allegations and has concluded multiple investigations of the program.

The NCAA released a statement Wednesday saying it has closed its 13-month investigation into Auburn's recruitment of the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, whose father shopped his services to another school for nearly $200,000.

The dark cloud of the investigation hovered over the program during the Tigers' national championship run.

The NCAA also cleared Auburn in allegations by four former players that they received payments during their recruitment or careers.

The NCAA notified Auburn of the decision on Tuesday in a letter from associate director of enforcement Jackie A. Thurnes. Auburn released it Wednesday.

Thurnes said NCAA enforcement staff and the university conducted more than 50 interviews into whether Newton was paid to sign with Auburn and examined documents including bank records, tax filings and phone and email records.

"The NCAA enforcement staff is committed to a fair and thorough investigative process," the NCAA said in a statement. "As such, any allegations of major rules violations must meet a burden of proof, which is a higher standard than rampant public speculation online and in the media. The allegations must be based on credible and persuasive information and includes a good-faith belief that the Committee on Infractions could make a finding.

"As with any case, should the enforcement staff become aware of additional credible information, it will review the information to determine whether further investigation is warranted."

The NCAA agreed with Auburn's self-report from Nov. 30, 2010, that Cecil Newton and the owner of a scouting service, Kenny Rogers, shopped Cam Newton's services to Mississippi State out of junior college, but that there was no evidence the player or Auburn knew about it.

Newton led the Tigers to a national title and was the No. 1 NFL draft pick by the Carolina Panthers, who made him an instant starter. The final months of his spectacular season were clouded by the allegations, though.

More allegations surfaced in March when the four former Auburn players raised more claims of wrongdoing in the program.

Raven Gray, Stanley McCover, Chaz Ramsey and Troy Reddick all told HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" that they received thousands of dollars while being recruited by or playing for the Tigers.

They said the cash was delivered in book bags, envelopes and even handshakes. Ramsey played at Auburn most recently, in the 2007 season.

Thurnes said the NCAA interviewed Gray and his family members and friends and that his claims were not substantiated "and in some instances were disputed by others."

The other three players interviewed by HBO declined to speak with the NCAA, which said "their lack of cooperation and lack of any other information" left insufficient reason to conclude that any violations occurred.

Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who was defensive coordinator during the careers of Reddick and McClover, dismissed the report as "pure garbage." Auburn hired outside counsel to investigate the claims.

"We appreciate the NCAA and thank them for their professionalism and thoroughness during this exhaustive investigation," Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said. "We are pleased to put this matter behind us."

Comments

ObjectiveEyes 3 years, 2 months ago

The NCAA has ZERO credibility. Reggie Bush and his family received cars, apartments and cash. Bush had to return the Heisman trophy. What happened to USC? Nothing. Butch Davis at UNC committed all sorts of violations. Penalties? None. Jim Tressel resigned in shame for well documented violations at Ohio State. What happened to them? Nothing. So, why would anyone expect the reigning National Champion to be penalized?

Of course, Georgia Tech loses an ACC championship and a season of wins because one player accepted $300 worth f clothes. AJ Green sells HIS jersey and gets suspended for 4 games.

Again, the NCAA has absolutely NO credibility.

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