LOS ANGLES -- The NCAA’s decision Wednesday to reinstate Auburn quarterback Cam Newton without penalty despite the prohibited actions of his father surprised USC Athletic Director Pat Haden.
Haden oversees a program that was hit with some of the harshest NCAA sanctions in college sports history, in part because Reggie Bush’s parents were found to have accepted prohibited extra benefits from agents and would-be sports marketers. Bush’s stepfather also helped set up a fledgling sports-marketing venture.
“In the Reggie Bush case, when the parent (did) something inappropriate the kid and the school suffered,” Haden said.
Haden, who succeeded Mike Garrett in August, said the Newton ruling is at odds with how USC is attempting to educate athletes and their parents regarding NCAA rules.
“I was always told the parent is the child,” Haden said. “That’s what we’ve been telling our kids. If the parent does something inappropriate the child suffers the consequences.”
USC is scheduled to appear before the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee next month. Haden said school attorneys would probably review the Newton case.
“Intuitively, it seems appropriate that we would discuss it,” he said.
The NCAA determined that Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, and an owner of a scouting service worked together to market the quarterback as part of a pay-for-play scheme. Auburn announced it would limit Cecil Newton’s access to the athletics program.
During its hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in February, USC argued that it was unaware of alleged improprieties involving Bush’s parents because they lived far from Los Angeles, near San Diego.
In a statement regarding the Newton decision, Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs, said: “In determining how a violation impacts a student-athlete’s eligibility, we must consider the young person’s responsibility. Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity.”
Haden questioned the premise that student-athletes should be held liable for their parents’ actions.
“Our kids are 18, 19, 20 years old,” he said. “Are they really responsible for their parents’ behavior?”
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