Bob Leverone, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Auburn kept quarterback Cam Newton eligible by successfully arguing to the NCAA that a former Mississippi State player did not act as an agent during his recruitment by that school.
Auburn released documents related to the NCAA's investigation into the recruiting allegations surrounding Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 NFL draft pick, on Friday in response to an open records request by The Associated Press.
The documents indicate Newton's father, Cecil Newton, and ex-Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers sought from $120,000 to $180,000 for the quarterback to sign with the Bulldogs out of junior college but didn't ask any other school for money.
The NCAA informed Auburn in October that it found no major violations in its investigation of Newton's recruitment or other unrelated pay-for-play allegations and was ending a 13-month probe.
Newton led the Tigers to their first national title since 1957 in his lone season at the Southeastern Conference school. He's now starting for the NFL's Carolina Panthers.
The documents shed light on the process, Auburn's arguments and Rogers' apparent motivations.
The NCAA's Academic and Membership Affairs staff declared Newton ineligible on Nov. 30, 2010, after determining Rogers acted as Newton's athletic scholarship agent, violating Bylaw 12.3.3.
He was reinstated the next day, the Wednesday before the SEC championship game. Auburn successfully argued that Newton never had a verbal or written agreement with Rogers or Cecil Newton to act as his agent, wasn't aware of the pay-for-play scheme and received no benefit from Rogers. Nor did Newton hire or compensate Rogers to serve as an agent or athletics scholarship agent, Auburn argued.
"Cam had no knowledge or involvement in this misconduct, and Auburn respectfully submits that he should not be punished for the conduct of others," the university's request for reinstatement said.
The documents offered some insight into Rogers' dealings with Mississippi State representatives John Bond and Bill Bell.
Bond indicated that Rogers, who operated Elite Football Preparation for prospective college athletics, told him he was just trying to get Newton to play for his former school and they "just had to make it happen." Bell also told the NCAA Rogers didn't give him any indication that Newton knew about the efforts to collect money.
"There is no information suggesting that Rogers had similar discussions about a cash inducement with any other institution, either directly or indirectly," one joint Auburn and NCAA document stated.
Auburn said it had no contact with Rogers while recruiting Newton and "was in no way involved with offering or considering an offer of any recruiting inducement."
"Despite numerous media reports suggesting Newton himself has engaged in wrongdoing, the facts clearly demonstrate Newton has done nothing wrong," Auburn told the NCAA.
Rogers also spoke to coaches at Oklahoma and Kansas State about Newton, the NCAA said.
The NCAA and Auburn found Cecil Newton and Rogers first discussed asking representatives of Mississippi State for "a substantial cash payment" around the time of his official visit from Nov. 27-29, 2009. Rogers was also on campus during the visit and, NCAA documents say, he and Cecil Newton met with two Bulldogs assistants in a hotel lobby and discussed payment. The two coaches denied to the NCAA that such inducements were discussed.
The NCAA notified Auburn of its investigation on Oct. 5, 2009, and requested documents including texts, emails and bank records for Cam Newton and his parents and for Cecil Newton's suburban Atlanta church from Dec. 1, 2008 to Sept. 1, 2010.
The governing body also sought texts and cell phone records for Auburn coach Gene Chizik and assistants Curtis Luper and Gus Malzahn — Newton's primary recruiters — from the same period.
The documents said Cecil Newton's phone records indicate that he and Rogers exchanged some 275 calls or text messages between March 2009 and January 2010, with "the vast majority of these related to MSU's recruitment of Newton." Only about 15 came after Newton signed with Auburn on Dec. 31, 2009.
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