Friday, November 5, 2010
Cam Newton says he's innocent
ESPN.com news services
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn quarterback Cam Newton says he "didn't do anything wrong" amid allegations that a man tried to
secure payment from Mississippi State during the Heisman Trophy
Newton said Friday just before stepping on the bus to the team's hotel in Montgomery ahead of Saturday's game with Chattanooga that
he's "sure the smoke will settle." He says he's holding up just
fine, that he's had "worse days."
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A person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press on Friday that Auburn has had "no contact whatsoever" with a man who allegedly tried to secure payment from Mississippi State during the recruitment of Newton.
ESPN.com reported Thursday a teammate of John Bond, a Mississippi State quarterback in the 1980s, contacted Bond soon after Newton's official visit to the school during the Ole Miss game in December. He said he was representing Newton and soliciting a six-figure payment.
Sources told ESPN.com Bond's former teammate is Kenny Rogers, who played at Mississippi State from 1982 to '85. Bond told ESPN.com that the former teammate told him other schools had already offered $200,000, but since Newton really liked Mississippi State and had a relationship with head coach Dan Mullen dating to when both were at Florida, Mississippi State could get him for $180,000.
"He said it would take some cash to get Cam," Bond said. "I called our athletic director, Greg Byrne, and he took it from there. That was pretty much it."
Rogers denied having solicited Newton to Mississippi State in an interview with ESPN 103.3 FM in Dallas. Rogers has a company called Elite Football Preparation, which holds camps in Alabama, Chicago and Mississippi, and matches football prospects with colleges.
"A school never paid me for a kid and alumni never paid me for a kid. Period. Point blank," Rogers said.
Rogers said he hasn't talked to his former teammate, Bond, "in 20 years or more."
"This is crazy, I can't believe it," he said of the allegations.
Rogers has separately come under scrutiny from the NFL Players Association and the NCAA.
The NFLPA has issued a disciplinary complaint against contract adviser Ian Greengross, and spokesman George Atallah told The Associated Press on Friday that the union would be looking into Rogers' involvement with players as well. THE NFLPA identified Rogers as a recruiter for Greengross.
Greengross was cited for "violating numerous provisions of the NFLPA's agent regulations while recruiting and representing players," and, according to the union, is responsible for the actions of his recruiters, employees and associates.
Auburn, in the meantime, has not received a letter of inquiry from the sport's governing body, the person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity.
The person said Newton's eligibility "has at no point been in jeopardy." Newton will play Saturday vs. Chattanooga.
"We have been made aware of the allegation. Unfortunately, we cannot comment at this time," Auburn assistant athletic director, media relations Kirk Sampson said on Thursday. "However, Cam Newton is eligible to play football at Auburn."
Cecil Newton, Cam's father, denied any wrongdoing in an interview with ESPN.com on Thursday.
"If Rogers tried to solicit money from Mississippi State, he did it on his own, without our knowledge," Cecil Newton said.
Cecil Newton is pastor of Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, a small church located in a commercial building in Newnan, Ga., southwest of Atlanta.
Documents obtained Friday by The Associated Press through an open records request show the city has been pressuring the minister to make some $50,000 in repairs to the structure since June 2008. An inspector found multiple problems, including a lack of smoke detectors, sprinklers and rear exits; moldy insulation; faulty wiring; rotting wooden doors and broken windows.
An abandoned structure needed to be demolished behind the church building, according to a letter from the city, and the grass had to be cut because of safety hazards to the public.
The city issued the first of three separate permits for work at the site in May 2009, records show. The town's newspaper, The Times-Herald, quoted Cecil Newton as telling the City Council in September 2009 that the church had the money for the repairs.
But it wasn't until last month that city officials agreed to take the structure off a list of buildings that could be condemned and demolished.
Cecil Newton would not say where his church got the money to perform the improvements required by the city.
"I'm not going to get into something like that," he told The Associated Press in a brief telephone interview Friday.
A person familiar with the situation says Auburn is "extremely confident there was no wrongdoing" during
its recruitment Newton because the school
has found "nothing inappropriate" after reviewing his father's
Auburn's compliance office reviewed personal and church bank records of Cecil Newton, as well as phone and e-mail records of the
Tigers' football staff, the person told The Associated Press Friday
night on the condition of anonymity.
The person said the Southeastern Conference told Auburn months ago of allegations that a man tried to solicit payment from Mississippi State during that school's recruitment of Newton.
Newton decided to leave Florida following a November 2008 arrest after he bought a stolen computer. The charges were dropped last December when he completed a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders.
Auburn fans have quickly rallied to Newton's defense in the recruiting scandal. A Facebook page supporting the quarterback gained more than 7,400 members less than a day after it was created.
Information from ESPN.com college football reporters Pat Forde, Mark Schlabach and Chris Low is included in this report.