Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Attorney: John Bond talks to FBI
ESPN.com news services
An attorney for the former Mississippi State player who helped spark the NCAA's investigation of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton says his client has been interviewed by the FBI.
Phil Abernethy wrote in an e-mail Tuesday that John Bond met with federal and state investigators and "cooperated fully with both agencies."
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Abernethy says Bond would have no further comment because of the "ongoing nature" of the investigation. The FBI has declined comment.
Bond, a former Mississippi State quarterback, told MSU officials in January he had been asked for $180,000 by a former teammate in exchange for Newton's commitment to the Bulldogs. The man was later identified by ESPN.com as Kenny Rogers.
Rogers is expected to be interviewed by the NCAA, according to his attorney, Doug Zeit.
Jody Wright, formerly an assistant athletic director overseeing football operations at Mississippi State and currently a University of Alabama football assistant, has been interviewed by the NCAA, sources told ESPN.com and The Tuscaloosa News. Wright was at Mississippi State when Newton was being recruited.
Newton's father, Cecil, was accused last week by Rogers, a former Mississippi State player who has worked for a Chicago-based agent, of asking for anywhere from $100,000 to $180,000 for his son to sign a letter of intent with Mississippi State. According to an NCAA spokeswoman, "the solicitation of cash or benefits by a prospective student-athlete or another individual on his or her behalf is not allowed under NCAA rules."
Friday, Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin acknowledged in a statement that the school "was approached with an offer to provide an extra benefit" and that the school refused.
ESPN.com's Chris Low writes about all things SEC in his conference blog.
Auburn has contended that Newton is an "eligible student-athlete" in light of reports that Rogers, acting on behalf of Cecil Newton, told two Mississippi State representatives -- Bond and Bill Bell -- that it would take money to get Newton to play at their school. Newton played in last Saturday's win over Georgia.
ESPN.com reported on Nov. 4 that a man who said he represented Newton allegedly was soliciting a six-figure payment to secure the quarterback's signature on a national letter of intent.
At the time, Bond told ESPN.com that a teammate at Mississippi State in the early 1980s contacted him soon after Newton's official visit to Mississippi State during the Ole Miss game last season, and said he was representing Newton. That man was identified as Rogers, who played at Mississippi State from 1982 to '85.
Rogers denied talking to Bond. Bond told ESPN.com last week: "My story hasn't changed. I absolutely talked with Kenny Rogers, and there are phone records that will show that."
Last Thursday, Rogers told ESPN 103.3 in Dallas that he had left a message for Bell, telling Bell he was with Cecil Newton, who wanted to know whether the deal was going to happen.
Bell, contacted Thursday night by ESPN.com, confirmed Cecil Newton did ask for money in exchange for Cam Newton to sign with Mississippi State. Bell said he was contacted by the NCAA about the matter and spoke to an investigator earlier this week.
"That's all I want to say about it at this point," Bell said.
Mississippi State notified the Southeastern Conference of the reported offer in January. It followed up with more information in July.
Bond said last Friday that he will meet with the FBI. When asked why the meeting was necessary, Bond said, "They don't want people shopping children around for thousands of dollars."
A report in USA Today on Wednesday detailed some specifics of Auburn coach Gene Chizik's contract, which calls for him to receive a possible bonus payment of $1.45 million if the school meets athletic and academic performance goals. Those bonuses "are subject to there being no major violations of NCAA Bylaws during the period in question," the newspaper reported.
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com's Pat Forde, Mark Schlabach and Chris Low is included in this report.