Payment sought in Newton recruitment
AP Sports Writer
A man who said he represented Auburn quarterback and Heisman hopeful Cameron Newton during his recruitment out of junior college last year asked for payment to secure his commitment to Mississippi State, according to former MSU player John Bond.
Newton has led Auburn (9-0) to the No. 3 ranking in The Associated Press poll and the No. 2 spot in the most recent Bowl Championship Series standings.
“I will say this, very loud and very clear: Cameron Newton is eligible at Auburn University. Period. End of story,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said Thursday night on his weekly radio show.
Bond said he went straight to MSU with the allegations.
“During the 2009 football season, I was contacted by a former football teammate, who represented to me that he was speaking for the Newton camp,” Bond said in a statement given to the AP through his attorney. “He told me that Cam Newton wanted to play at Mississippi State, but that a specified payment would have to be made.
“I reported the conversation to the Mississippi State Athletic Department,” Bond said. “I was told by the Athletic Department that Mississippi State would not respond to the overture that was made to me, and that Mississippi State would continue to recruit Cam Newton as it does any other football recruit.”
ESPN.com, which first reported the story, cited unidentified people who said Bond’s former teammate Kenny Rogers was the one soliciting payment. The website reported the school refused to get involved with Rogers, who has separately come under scrutiny from the NFL Players Association and the NCAA.
Rogers has a company called Elite Football Preparation, which holds camps in Alabama, Chicago and Mississippi, and matches football prospects with colleges.
Attempts by the AP to reach Rogers were unsuccessful.
In a statement, the school said “we are comfortable that representatives of Mississippi State University’s interests conducted themselves appropriately and in compliance with all NCAA by-laws.”
MSU compliance director Bracky Brett refused to comment in a text message.
Bond’s lawyer, Phil B. Abernethy, said in a statement to the AP that Bond has been interviewed by the NCAA.
“The NCAA cannot comment on current, pending or potential investigations,” NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an e-mail.
The ESPN.com report said Rogers told Bond that schools “had already offered $200,000” for Newton. But since Newton liked MSU coach Dan Mullen when the two were at Florida together in 2007 and ’08, MSU could “get him for $180,000.” Mullen was the offensive coordinator at Florida before taking the Mississippi State job after the 2008 season.
Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, told the AP that the family denies any allegations and is “cooperating with the investigation.”
Southeastern Conference spokesman Charles Bloom declined comment.
Bond played quarterback for Mississippi State from 1980 to 1983. Rogers was there from 1982-85.
AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Montgomery, Ala., and Mike Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.