AUBURN, Ala. -- Mississippi State booster Bill Bell told the NCAA last week that former Bulldogs teammate Kenny Rogers sent him a text message outlining a six-figure payment plan to get quarterback Cam Newton to sign with the school last year, according to an ESPN.com report.
Bell said Rogers, who has been described as a “recruiter” for an NFL agent, made the request on behalf of Newton’s father, Cecil.
Bell said he received a text message from Rogers outlining the payment plan, which requested $80,000 the day after Cam Newton signed a letter of intent to play for Mississippi State, $50,000 more after 30 days and another $50,000 30 days after that.
“When he asked for it, it was like, ‘Bam!’” Bell told ESPN.com. “He told me this kid’s dad is going to want money and the next day he sent me a text message. He didn’t say anything other than, ‘This is what I want and I want it in three installments.’”
Bell said he has Rogers’ text message on an old cell phone, which was damaged by water. He is trying to retrieve it through his cell phone provider.
Auburn, which signed Cam Newton last Dec. 31, has not been accused of wrongdoing in the matter. School officials continued their stance on not commenting about the ongoing NCAA investigation into the Heisman Trophy candidate’s recruitment.
“I’m not discussing anything about Cameron Newton and that situation unless it has to do with the first 11 games he played in,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said.
Bell, who runs a roofing company in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., said Cecil Newton never specifically asked him for money, but he was present during three-way phone calls during which Rogers discussed the payment plan. Bell said he shared a series of voice mail messages from Rogers with the NCAA.
“(Cecil Newton) didn’t come out and say, ‘I want $180,000,’” Bell said. “He inferred it and talked about it, but not directly. Kenny would talk about it in front of him, and (Cecil) never corrected him or said, ‘No, that’s not what we’re doing.’”
NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn has said “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.” Potential penalties depend on multiple factors, including the benefit sought and player’s level of responsibility in the matter.
Bell joins former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond in saying Newton’s father was involved in pay-for-play talks about his son.
Bond, Bell and Rogers have met with NCAA investigators. Bond has also met with FBI officials, who are looking into players being shopped to colleges. Bell said Rogers made the initial contact but that he also had phone conversations with Cecil Newton during his son’s recruitment.
“He said it was going to take more than just a relationship with (Mississippi State coach) Dan Mullen and that Cam’s relationship with Mullen wasn’t what Mullen thought it was,” Bell said. “That’s when he said, ‘Dan Mullen is going to have to put a smile on my face if he thinks he’s going to get my son.’”
Rogers, who works for a company that connects prospective college athletes with schools, originally denied involvement in the matter but admitted on ESPN radio in Dallas last week that he relayed Cecil Newton’s request of money to Bell.
Following Cam Newton’s official visit to Mississippi State last November, Rogers said he followed Cecil Newton out of Starkville, Miss., to a gas station, where Cam Newton’s father asked him, “What are you thinking is going to happen? Is it going to go through?”
Rogers said he phoned his former MSU teammate Bell and left a message, asking about money.
Speaking about Bell’s quotes Wednesday, Rogers’ attorney, Douglas Zeit, told ESPN.com: “As I understand it, that was the payment plan Cecil Newton was seeking.”
Cecil Newton, according to an Atlanta TV report last week citing an unnamed source, admitted to talking about money with Mississippi State but insisted his son had no knowledge of it. Cecil Newton said no money was ever exchanged. Cam Newton and his father reportedly met with the NCAA prior to the Georgia game last week. Despite questions about his eligibility, the quarterback played against the Bulldogs.
In other news Thursday, TMZ.com reported FBI officials looking into the Newton recruiting controversy asked someone about Milton McGregor, the owner of Victoryland casino who was indicted on charges of corruption last month after allegedly trying to buy pro-gambling votes in the Alabama Legislature.
McGregor is an Auburn booster who donated $1 million toward the construction of the school’s new $86 million basketball arena in May 2008.
His attorney, Joe Espy, released a statement to WSFA News refuting the TMZ report: “Milton McGregor has never had any contact direct or indirect with Cam Newton, Cecil Newton, Kenny Rogers or anyone purporting to represent Cam Newton.
“Mr. McGregor has never been asked to provide money for any recruitment or compensation of any current or (prospective) student athlete including Cam Newton at Auburn or any other school, and has never provided any type of compensation in that regard period no exceptions.”