AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn quarterback Cam Newton insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong during his recruitment last year, saying he didn’t have illicit dealings with anybody and adding that he told the truth to NCAA investigators last month.
“Everything I’ve done at this university,” Newton said of Auburn, “I did it the right way.”
Newton’s statements came during his interview with ESPN’s Chris Fowler in advance of the ESPN College Football Awards Show show in Orlando, Fla., where Newton won three awards -- the Walter Camp, Davey O’Brien and Maxwell.
The junior hadn’t commented specifically about the NCAA’s ruling last week that his father, Cecil, and the owner of a scouting service asked for money from Mississippi State to get the quarterback to sign a letter of intent with the Bulldogs. Asking for extra benefits is a violation of NCAA rules.
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Newton was ruled ineligible but was reinstated the following day without conditions -- in time to play in the SEC championship game -- after the NCAA determined he didn’t know about his father’s actions.
“During that time, the only thing that I could do and the only thing that I did was tell the truth,” Newton said of his meeting with NCAA investigators. “The truth will come out.”
Newton decided between Mississippi State and Auburn during his recruitment out of Blinn College last December. He picked the Tigers on Dec. 31.
“I had no dealings with nobody at Mississippi State during the time that I came to Auburn,” Newton said. “But I felt that, as a whole, Auburn possessed what’s best for Cam Newton, and that’s why I decided to come here.”
He said he spoke to MSU coach Dan Mullen and his wife, Megan, after making his decision.
An ESPN report on Nov. 9 said Newton told a Mississippi State recruiter that his father had chosen Auburn for him because “the money was too much.”
“I’m not here to talk about any reports,” Newton said Thursday, later adding that nothing was misunderstood in his conversation with the Mullens.
“I told him what I had in my heart at the time,” Newton said. “The conversation was rather emotional and was hard for me to do it. And I know it was probably hard for them to receive it.
“But I wouldn’t have been able to go to sleep at night without me calling coach Mullen, man-to-man, not hiding behind anything.”
While his son answered ESPN’s questions, Cecil Newton answered a major one about the Heisman Trophy ceremony, saying in a news release from his lawyer that he will not attend.
“So that my son Cam Newton can receive all the honors and congratulations that he has worked so hard to accomplish without distraction,” he wrote, “I have decided not to be in attendance at the Heisman ceremony, as it will perhaps rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment.”
The NCAA ruling last week limited Cecil’s access to the Auburn football program. Newton told ESPN he and his father have not discussed whether Cecil did anything wrong during the recruiting process last year.
“That’s not something that I’m trying to get clarity of because I really don’t care,” Newton said. “At the end of the day, I can look him in his eye and he can look me in my eye, and I can know that he has my best interests at heart.”
Newton said the situation hasn’t created a rift in his family.
“I know if I pick up the phone, Cecil will be there,” he said. “My love for him is unconditional. This situation can split a family, can split a team. ... Whatever me and my father have, it’s me and my father. I respect him as a man; I respect him more being my father.”