AUBURN, Ala. — The NCAA is investigating the claim that a man saying he was from Cam Newton’s camp sought a six-figure payment from Mississippi State to sign the quarterback during his recruitment last year, according to an ESPN.com report Thursday.
The report said former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond was approached by a teammate of his from the early 1980s, who sought $180,000 to secure Newton’s signature with the Bulldogs.
A person familiar with the situation says Auburn has had "no contact whatsoever" with a man who allegedly tried to secure payment from Mississippi State during the recruitment of Newton.
The NCAA is reviewing the recruitment of Newton, but Auburn has not received a letter of inquiry from the sport's governing body, the person told The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to comment publicly.
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The person says Newton's eligibility "has at no point been in jeopardy." Newton will play Saturday vs. Chattanooga.
Former Mississippi State player John Bond has said his ex-teammate Kenny Rogers was soliciting payment during Newton's recruitment.
Newton signed with Auburn late last December.
No allegations in the ESPN.com report were specifically made against Auburn or its staff.
Auburn athletic department officials sent out a news release Thursday afternoon saying they could not comment other than to say Newton remains eligible to play.
Tigers coach Gene Chizik began his weekly radio call-in show by addressing the allegations surrounding his star quarterback, predictably not going into specifics.
“Here’s what I can say loud and clear,” Chizik said. “Cameron Newton is eligible at Auburn University. Period. End of story.”
Mississippi State relayed Bond’s information to the SEC offices. The NCAA has since looked into the matter, talking with Mississippi State and seeking financial records from Newton’s father, Cecil.
“Unfounded,” said Cecil Newton, who questioned the timing of the report. “We’ll participate with the investigation.
They’re going to do their due diligence and follow up. And I’m not against any investigation. But I’m here to protect my interests in this whole investigation. Myself and my family.”
Cecil Newton, who has retained a lawyer, said he could not comment on specifics of the case but told ESPN.com that “if Rogers tried to solicit money from Mississippi State, he did it on his own, without our knowledge.”
Cam Newton, a Heisman Trophy contender who has led Auburn to a 9-0 start and the No. 2 spot in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, practiced Thursday as usual in preparation for Saturday’s game against UT-Chattanooga. He was not available for comment.
Cecil Newton said he’s spoken to his son and doesn’t know how the accusations will affect him moving forward.
“I hope it doesn’t,” he said. “I hope and pray it doesn’t. I think he’s a strong kid. He’s fought back from some other insurmountable things, I guess you could say.”
The accusations stem from Newton’s recruitment last fall, when the quarterback was looking to transfer back to a Football Bowl Subdivision school after a year at Blinn (Texas) Community College.
Newton visited three schools — Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Auburn — during the recruiting process. Bond said Rogers approached him after Newton’s official trip to Starkville, Miss., for Mississippi State’s game against Ole Miss on Nov. 28.
Bond said Rogers claimed he was a representative of Newton’s camp and sought $180,000 from Mississippi State to secure the quarterback’s signature on a letter of intent.
The report said the sum was lower than the $200,000 other teams had offered because of Newton’s relationship with Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, for whom he played at Florida in 2007 and ’08.
“I reported the conversation to the Mississippi State athletic department,” Bond said in a written statement released to the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger. “I was told by the athletic department that Mississippi State would not respond to the overture that was made to me, and that Mississippi State would continue to recruit Cam Newton as it does any other football recruit.”
Rogers runs a Chicago-based company called Elite Football Preparation, which holds camps in Chicago, Alabama and Mississippi. Rogers has financial ties to NFL agent Ian Greengross, according to The New York Times, although Greengross has not been linked to the Newton investigation.
The Times reported that the NFL Players Association is investigating Rogers posing as an NFLPA employee.
Cecil Newton told ESPN.com that he first spoke with Rogers two years ago, when Cam left Florida for Blinn. He said he talked to Rogers on several occasions to find out more about Mississippi State but that the two didn’t meet until Newton’s official visit to Starkville.
Bond said an NCAA investigator met with Mississippi State in September.
Cecil Newton said his family received a letter from the NCAA seeking financial statements about a month ago. He told ESPN that he submitted bank statements and records for the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance in Newnan, Ga., where he is a pastor.
The church was in danger of being demolished by order of the Newnan City Council in 2009 for failing to meet the city’s building code, according to articles in the Newnan Times-Herald.
After several extensions, renovation work began last spring. The paper reported Oct. 28 that the church has been brought up to code.