Earlier this morning, the NCAA handed down a decision regarding the Cam Newton case, and it is bad news for USC. College athletics’ governing body reinstated the superstar quarterback on Wednesday after Auburn declared him ineligible on Tuesday. Despite being involved in a pay-for-play scandal estimated at $180,000, Cam Newton won’t miss a single game.
In a laughable statement, the NCAA concluded that Cam Newton didn’t know about the incident, and that was good enough for them. Let’s be clear here. The NCAA determined USC knew or should have known about the Reggie Bush benefits. Some of those benefits included a house provided to his parents in San Diego, about an hour and a half drive south. Meanwhile, Cam Newton is absolved because he had no idea what his own father was doing? One report stated that Cam called Mississippi State after switching to Auburn in a somber mood and said he chose Auburn over MSU because of “too much money.”
While the Cam Newton quote might not be true, the NCAA certainly didn’t do its due diligence before rendering this ruling. It took the NCAA four years to gather evidence against USC and declare Bush ineligible, but it takes less than two months to investigate a case with similar implications? As for the argument that the NCAA simply wanted to expedite the case because Newton is in the middle of a season, ask North Carolina how that has been working out for them. Finally, there is the argument that the NCAA probably couldn’t prove Cam knew. After reading the NCAA case cover to cover, it was clear to me that no solid evidence is necessary in these cases. Circumstantial evidence holds and it is up to the NCAA to decide who they believe. It’s not what the NCAA can prove, it’s what the NCAA thinks is true.
In the USC case, the Trojans were hammered for failure to monitor a “high-profile” athlete. And why isn’t Cam Newton a high-profile athlete? Given that all the facts aren’t out yet, I am not advocating for Auburn to be punished. For all we know, they may not have known about the incident and don’t deserve any sort of punishment. But the fact that Cam Newton was clear is utterly ridiculous. Allegations of such a serious nature don’t just come out of nowhere. Where there is smoke, there is usually fire. Given past cases, it seems two months isn’t sufficient time to gather all of the facts.
Just two weeks ago, USC running back Dillon Baxter was ruled ineligible for accepting a golf cart ride valued at five dollars and missed a game while the enforcement staff looked into the matter. After the allegations came out, Baxter claimed he didn’t know the student who drove him around was an NFLPA certified agent. Nevertheless, the NCAA took its sweet time reinstating him. For those of you keeping score at home, thats golf-cart-ride games missed: 1 – pay for play games missed: 0. How is it that the “the player didn’t know” defense works for the more serious allegation?
These idiots at the NCAA parade around like they are doing the nation a service by protecting this idea of “amateurism” in college sports and making sure the student-athletes don’t get any money. Meanwhile, they rake in the money by negotiating lucrative television deals like the one with CBS for the NCAA Tournament. The system is completely hypocritical. On top of that, the NCAA doesn’t rule based on fact or precedent. If the NCAA likes your school, then you obviously don’t have to worry about any serious trouble. Just self-report allegations a few months after they become public and the NCAA will take care of it in a day. If it doesn’t like your school, it will take four years, ask misleading questions, and go out of its way to make absurd conclusions in order to punish you.
For optimistic Trojan fans who thought winning the appeal was possible, that notion seems to be fading away. I am not saying USC didn’t deserve any punishment. They laughed in the face of the NCAA, and insulted their very limited intelligence. Furthermore, athletic director Mike Garrett botched the handling of the case. But the one handed down was way too harsh and based on many inconsistencies. It was more based on the fact they didn’t like USC’s response and cavalier attitude. Also, the precedent set forth in the Alabama case didn’t warrant such harsh scholarship reductions or bowl bans. However, the Newton case reminds us that the NCAA will do whatever it damn well pleases, and that isn’t a very good sign. Death to the NCAA!