BRADENTON, Fla. – About halfway through his throwing session Thursday morning at IMG Academies, Cam Newton spotted his father camped under a tent in the far corner of the field.
“What ya in the shade for, man?” Newton yelled.
Cecil Newton waved off the question and kept his position, from which he could watch two of his three sons practicing on adjacent fields. Caylin Newton, 12, a rising seventh-grader in south Atlanta, was participating in one of IMG’s football camps.
After standing at the forefront of a national firestorm last fall that resulted from his pay-for-play scheme for Cam’s services, Cecil Newton is content to stay in the background these days.
His oldest son is returning to pro football in the UFL. His middle son won a Heisman Trophy and a national title at Auburn after the NCAA cleared him, and was the No.1 overall NFL pick by the Carolina Panthers.
And though the investigation remains open, Cecil Newton is confident the NCAA will find no other improprieties.
“We really just want it to calm down, let the smoke settle, let the dust settle,” Newton said Thursday in a rare interview. “The truth is out there. They have it in their files.”
Cecil Newton remains the pastor of Holy Zion Center of Deliverance Church, whose financial records he turned over to the NCAA last year when it began looking into allegations he had solicited a six-figure payment from Mississippi State when Cam Newton was transferring from junior college.
The NCAA ultimately ruled that Cam Newton and Auburn did not know about Cecil Newton’s actions, and allowed Cam Newton to continue playing. While his son led Auburn to SEC and BCS titles, Cecil Newton was vilified and held up as an example of all that is wrong with big-time college athletics.
“What was in print didn’t totally define who I am as a person or as a father. And I’m confident over time that will be revealed through our (charitable) foundation and through a lot of our efforts,” Cecil Newton said.
“I don’t really want to go back and rehash that and speak along the lines of what I did or didn’t do, what was said, what should have been said. I really don’t even want to open that can of worms because the investigation, from what they say, is ongoing. I’ve been transparent throughout the whole process.”
Cecil Newton said he has had no recent meetings with the NCAA.
Several media outlets reported last year the FBI planned to look into the matter. Cecil Newton would not say whether the FBI is still investigating.
“I really don’t even want to put much into the suggestion of what might be federal or what might be this or that.