Was Auburn booster involved in the Cam Newton pay-for-play scandal?

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 06: Quarterback Cam Newton  of the Auburn Tigers stretches before play against the Chattanooga Mocs November 6, 2010 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Milton McGregor may become a name that grows synonymous with the Cam Newton pay-for-play scandal involving Auburn and Mississippi State.

The FBI is looking into whether or not McGregor (an Auburn booster) was involved in the recruitment process for Newton last year. Apparently the FBI arrested McGregor last month in a bribery sting over an attempt to buy off politicians in order to pay off gambling debts. Just two years ago, he reportedly gave Auburn one million and is considered to be a major booster for the school.

Those that believe the university didn’t have anything to do with a pay-for-play deal with Newton and that a rouge booster was involved now have a catalyst in McGregor. This doesn’t mean Auburn would be let off the hook, but in the eyes of the NCAA it’s better if a booster acted alone in this situation.

In a related report, ESPN.com says that a Mississippi State booster named Bill Bell told the NCAA that he received a text message from Kenny Rogers outlining a payment plan for Newton to sign with MSU. According to the report, there was a three-way phone conversation between Bell, Rogers and Cam’s father Cecil about how the payments would work ($80,000 the day after Cam signed, $50,000 30 days later and then another $50,000 60 days later).

“When he asked for it, it was like, ‘Bam! He (Rogers) 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.’ ”

“(Cecil Newton) didn’t come out and say, ‘I want $180,000,’ He inferred it and talked about it, but not directly. Kenny would talk about it in front of him, and [Cecil Newton] never corrected him or said, ‘No, that’s not what we’re doing.’ ”

“He said it was going to take more than just a relationship with Dan Mullen and that Cam’s relationship with Mullen wasn’t what Mullen thought it was. 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.’ “

I’m no Columbo, but if you read between the lines it appears as though Bell told Rogers and Newton to buzz off but McGregor obliged to pay the freight. And thus, that’s why Cam is currently running around on Saturdays in an Auburn Tigers uniform.

But that’s just speculation on my part and I encourage everyone not to jump to conclusions before all the facts come out. There is new information on this scandal everyday and I’m sure mores to come.

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Vegas pulls Georgia-Auburn odds off board – will Newton be suspended?

LEXINGTON, KY - OCTOBER 09: Cam Newton  of the Auburn Tigers throws a pass as he warms up before the SEC game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Leave it up to Vegas to offer a window as to whether or not Auburn quarterback Cam Newton will be suspended following allegations that he and/or his family asked for money during his recruitment last year prior to agreeing to play for the Tigers.

According to a report by Covers.com, Las Vegas pulled the odds for the Georgia-Auburn game this Saturday following a sharp play from a bettor who allegedly knows Newton’s playing status for this weekend. If Newton were to be suspended, the line could drop from 8.5 to as low as Auburn –3 by kickoff.

That said, it still seems highly unlikely that Newton would be suspended this week. It took the NCAA years to file sanctions against USC following the Reggie Bush fiasco and by the time they did, Bush already had a Heisman Trophy, a Super Bowl ring and Kim Kardashian millions of dollars from the NFL. So it seems far-fetched for Newton to be suspended less than a week after these reports came out.

Plus, it’s not like Auburn is going to suspend him. First and foremost, they’ve stood by their quarterback amidst the allegations and why wouldn’t they? They’re currently ranked No. 2 in the nation and Newton is in line to win the Heisman. They’re not going to do anything to jeopardize Newton or their season – especially when they don’t have to. After all, it’s not like any hard evidence has come to light yet.

Let’s keep in mind that if the report is true, how would the bettor get a hold of that kind of information? Does he have a wiretap into the NCAA headquarters or a relative on staff? How would he know whether or not Newton will be suspended?

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens, although if Vegas is pulling odds off the board then you know they have a good reason to. Those books don’t mess around.

Report: Newton and his father admitted that money was involved in recruitment

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Cameron Newton  of the Auburn Tigers celebrates after their 24-17 over the LSU Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

You knew that when the first report came out about Cam Newton and the possibility that money was involved in his transfer from a community college to Auburn that more would eventually come out.

And it has.

A day after reports surfaced that Newton had three instances of academic cheating while attending the University of Florida, ESPN.com is now saying that Newton and his father Cecil admitted in separate phone conversations to a pay-for-play plan while the quarterback was being recruited last year.

Prior to Newton’s commitment to Auburn, one of the recruiters said Cecil Newton told him it would take “more than a scholarship” to bring his son to Mississippi State, a request the source said the school would not meet. Cecil Newton also referred the recruiter to a third person that would provide more specifics, the source said.

After Newton committed to Auburn, another source said an emotional Cam Newton phoned another recruiter to express regret that he wouldn’t be going to Mississippi State, stating that his father Cecil had chosen Auburn for him because “the money was too much.”

The NCAA is investigating allegations surrounding the Newtons in regards to the recruiting process. Cam Newton, who is having a Heisman-caliber season for No. 2 Auburn, declined comment.

Couple things here:

1) Investigations like this take a while to complete, so it’s doubtful that Newton and Auburn’s season will be affected by these reports. Don’t forget that it took many years for the NCAA to file sanctions against USC for the Reggie Bush fiasco, and by that time Bush already had a Heisman, millions of dollars in the NFL and a Super Bowl ring. I doubt this will impact Newton’s Heisman chances or Auburn’s national title hopes…right now.

2) However, this isn’t good for Auburn because this is the first time they’re essentially being accused of any wrongdoing. If Mississippi State couldn’t land Newton, then how did Auburn? Did they pony up for his services or did Newton pick Auburn over Mississippi State the ol’ fashioned way (i.e. hookers. I’m just kidding…sort of.).

3) Is there any hard evidence here? So far there’s a lot of conjecture, but nothing that would allow the NCAA to punish Newton and/or Auburn. Does anyone have tapes of the conversations between Newton, his father and Mississippi State? Because if not, then how is any of this going to get proven? There’s a lot of he said, she said at the moment but zero evidence.

About the only thing that’s for sure is that this isn’t over. More reports and allegations are forthcoming and the water has only begun to boil.

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