The NCAA announced its decision regarding the eligibility of Cam Newton today, much to the chagrin of the thousands of USC fans scattered across the country. In essence, college athletics' governing body stated that Newton would be eligible to play in Saturday's SEC title game, despite the fact that his father violated NCAA rules by shopping his son to Mississippi State in a pay-for-play plan.
In its findings released today, the NCAA concluded Monday that a violation of Newton's amateur status had occurred, resulting in Auburn to declare Newton ineligible on Tuesday while simultaneously requesting for his eligibility to be reinstated.
In response, Newton has now been cleared to compete without conditions for the time being.
"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, which led to his reinstatement," Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs, said in a news release.
"From a student-athlete reinstatement perspective, Auburn University met its obligation under NCAA bylaw 14.11.1. Under this threshold, the student-athlete has not participated while ineligible."
What remains oddly strange in this development is that rules were broken, yet, outside of Kenny Rodgers being forced to dissociate from Mississippi State and Cecil Newton's access to Auburn athletic facilities to be limited, where are the repercussions?
Even SEC commissioner Mike Slive appeared almost contrite, telling the media that "The conduct of Cam Newton's father and the involved individual is unacceptable and has no place in the SEC or in intercollegiate athletics."
But if there was improper conduct, then why not take action, as opposed to letting the dust settle and declaring Newton eligible?
Today's released report clearly indicates that rules were broken; it's beyond just speculation and allegations at this point.
Apparently, however, Newton's case is vastly different than that of the Reggie Bush episode. In regards to Bush, USC pleaded innocent by fact of simply not having knowledge of Bush's circumstances with Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels. In the end, it failed, as the NCAA infamously ruled that "high-profile players require high-profile monitoring" and that USC should have known the living arrangements of Lamar Griffen - Bush's stepfather.
Yet, in the case of Newton, Auburn is exonerated because it was "unaware" a violation was occurring. So much for the Bush precedent where ignorance doesn't equate to innocence.
It's an odd ruling; one that isn't necessarily logical, based on previous decisions by the NCAA. But then again, find me a point in history, where NCAA rulings were consistent.
Granted, the case isn't closed, and theoretically, new evidence could present itself, where Newton eventually does become retroactively ineligible. But today's events don't make that seem like a likelyscenario.
If a golf cart ride of $5 can result in a one-game suspension for Dillon Baxter, doesn't it appear a bit strange that an admitted violation in regards to Newton involving allegedly $200,000 results in absolutely no consequences?
In case you've been asleep, welcome to the wonderful world of the NCAA.