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Questions and answers on the Newton situation

Auburn says quarterback Cam Newton, who is alleged to have demanded money to go to Mississippi State, remains eligible to play. A Heisman integrity clause could cost him votes.

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Auburn says quarterback Cam Newton, who is alleged to have demanded money to go to Mississippi State, remains eligible to play. A Heisman integrity clause could cost him votes.

AUBURN, Ala. — New allegations centering around Auburn quarterback Cam Newton — often citing unnamed sources — seemingly have emerged daily.

Auburn has stood behind its Heisman Trophy candidate, saying he remains eligible to play. Wednesday, coach Gene Chizik refused to answer questions about him.

Here are some (as well as answers) about the situation:

What is the latest?

The newest allegations came Tuesday night in a story by ESPN's Joe Schad, who reported Newton and his father, Cecil, spoke to "two sources who recruit for Mississippi State" about a pay-for-play plan during separate phone calls last year.

According to a source, Cecil told one recruiter it would take "more than a scholarship" to bring his son to Mississippi State. Another source said a recruiter claimed Newton told him he wanted to go to Mississippi State but his father had chosen Auburn for him because "the money was too much."

Wednesday, Mississippi State confirmed it contacted the SEC in January regarding an issue with Newton's recruitment. The school said it followed proper procedure and cooperated fully with the ensuing NCAA investigation.

What does the report mean by "sources who recruit for Mississippi State"?

Schad had four unnamed sources, two of which "recruit" for Mississippi State. Only coaches are allowed to recruit, per NCAA rules. Asked if anyone on his staff other than coaches are registered with the NCAA as "recruiters," Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said, "No."

What is Auburn's involvement?

The insinuation in Schad's report is the source believed Auburn paid to secure Newton's services, but no proof of that exists. Auburn officials said after being given information from the SEC offices this summer, it investigated the matter and found no wrongdoing. The school has not received an NCAA letter of inquiry.

What have the Newtons done?

Cecil Newton has turned over financial documents related to his church to the NCAA, which has an ongoing investigation.

Why the huge gap in time from when Mississippi State contacted the SEC (January) and when the SEC informed Auburn (summer)?

Mississippi State cleared that up in its statement Wednesday. The SEC followed up the initial call by requesting specific information, including interviews with staff members involved. But the school could not respond immediately because of "ongoing and time-consuming eligibility issues involving nonfootball matters" throughout the winter and spring. It provided additional information to the SEC in July.

Do allegations of Newton's academic misconduct at Florida play into this matter?

No, considering neither Blinn junior college in Texas, where Newton transferred after leaving Florida in 2009, nor Auburn determined anything in his academic record would preclude him from admission.

What does this do to Newton's Heisman candidacy?

Voters decide the winner. According to its website, the trophy "annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity." A few voters, citing the "integrity" clause, have said they will not vote for Newton based on the allegations.

How long until we find something out?

The NCAA has been known to move very slowly. The Reggie Bush controversy at Southern Cal first surfaced in 2006, but the NCAA didn't rule until this year.

What's the end result?

So far, there remains no smoking gun. No accounts of money changing hands exist, and no recorded phone calls have emerged. Ideally for Auburn, the NCAA will conclude its investigation and declare no wrongdoing on the school's part, closing the case. Still that might take several months. The worst-case scenario is evidence emerges that Newton received illegal benefits at any point during his recruiting. Even if it's not directly associated with Auburn, it would bring Newton's eligibility into question, thus jeopardizing everything the Tigers have accomplished this season, which as one of four unbeaten teams in Division I-A, could include a BCS national title.

Around the nation

Kentucky: Derrick Locke, still the Wildcats' leading rusher, said he will play Saturday after missing four games with a shoulder stinger.

Tennessee: Freshman defensive end Jacques Smith pleaded guilty to an assault charge for punching and kicked a man at a Knoxville bar. If he stays out of trouble for a year, the charge will be removed from his record. Coach Derek Dooley previously said he handled punishment for the Oct. 31 incident internally.

WAC: The conference today will announce the additions of Texas-San Antonio and Texas State for all sports and Denver for all but football, the Associated Press reported. The conference must replace Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada, which are moving to the Mountain West, to have eight football teams. Texas-San Antonio, led by former Miami coach Larry Coker, is starting a program that begins play in 2011. Texas State currently is a I-AA school. Denver, currently in the Sun Belt, doesn't have a football program.

Questions and answers on the Newton situation 11/10/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 11:49pm]

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