By Joe Schaad
Two sources who recruit for Mississippi State said that Cecil Newton and his son, quarterback Cam Newton, admitted in separate phone conversations to a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.
Mississippi State compliance officials relayed the alleged conversations to Southeastern Conference compliance officials in January, according to two other sources close to the football program.
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.
Cecil Newton, who previously has denied any wrongdoing, did not respond to an e-mail request for comment Tuesday night.
However, when reached late Tuesday night by phone by FoxSports.com, Cecil Newton said he had no comment.
“I’m not going to confirm nor deny nothing that has been taking place,” Cecil Newton said.
He also said he knew nothing about the report when asked if he’d seen it.
“I’ve answered what I need to answer,” Cecil Newton told FoxSports.com. “If they’re out there, go with it and make the decision or determination based on whatever you’ve got to say.”
Cecil Newton also described all of the allegations about his son as “a witch hunt,” according to FoxSports.com.
“They can continue doing whatever they’re doing, sir,” Cecil Newton told the website. “I’m just in support of my son.”
Auburn did not respond to a request for comment. The school has repeatedly said it looked into Newton’s recruitment and that he remains eligible.
Earlier Tuesday, Auburn found itself defending Newton in the wake of allegations of academic cheating when he was at Florida. The Tigers’ coach, Gene Chizik, dismissed a FoxSports.com report as “pure garbage” in an emotional 4-minute, 25-second rant.
“I’m standing up here on a very important week trying to defend something that’s garbage,” Chizik said. Auburn faces Georgia on Saturday.
FoxSports.com reported Monday that Newton was caught cheating three times and was to appear for a hearing in front of Florida’s Student Committee facing possible expulsion during the spring semester of 2009.
A person with knowledge of Newton’s situation confirmed Newton left Florida after the fall 2008 semester rather than face suspension or expulsion, in part due to the allegations of academic wrongdoing, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Newton’s father said he could not confirm or deny the report, citing a gag order from his attorney, The Times reported. “I don’t know what’s in his personal file, but if someone is bold enough to post something like that, there will be consequences,” he said.
Newton transferred to Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas, where he played last season. He declined to discuss the latest report, which came on the heels of former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond telling ESPN.com that someone claiming to represent the Newton family sought money during his recruitment by the school.
Sources told ESPN.com the man who said he was representing the Newtons was Kenny Rogers, who played in the 1980s for Mississippi State alongside Bond.
“I’m not going to entertain something that took place not three months, not six months, not a year but two years ago,” Cam Newton said. “I’m not going to sit up here and say anything about it, whether I did or did not do it, because I don’t want to beat a dead horse talking about it. It’s not going to affect me any way, shape or fashion.”
In Gainesville, Florida coach Urban Meyer said in a statement that neither he nor anyone on his staff leaked information on Newton’s academic record, calling it a “ridiculous claim.”
“For anyone to think that I or anyone on our staff may have leaked information about private student records to the media doesn’t know us very well,” Meyer said. “It’s a ridiculous claim and simply not true.”
Cam Newton said Meyer was a man of integrity.
“I would hope he wouldn’t say anything like that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who also recruited Newton out of Blinn, said he saw “nothing at all” out of the ordinary during that process.
“Our recruitment of Cameron could not have been better, or was just fine,” Stoops said. “I didn’t notice anything and none of our coaches did as we were recruiting him.”
Joe Schad is a national college football reporter for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.