2011 Auburn Cost To Keep NCAA Jail Away: $401K

Thanks to breaking news reported Wednesday by Clay Travis on his new website OutkickTheCoverage.com we learned why the NCAA investigation into the Auburn football program, as Travis put it today, “has now stretched into its tenth month.”

Auburn NCAA Defense Fund

(Aubs: $170K Over 7-Day Period To Keep NCAA Jail Away From The Plains)

Travis reported that the latest round of investigatory activity took place in Montgomery in late June:

NCAA investigator Jackie Thurnes checked in to the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Montgomery and conducted interviews in conference rooms there. Thurnes investigation dealt with continuing issues surrounding the eligibilty of Cam Newton and other Auburn players implicated in pay-for-play scandals. 

Travis noted Thurnes was specifically looking into allegations made by former Auburn football players during a recent HBO Real Sports episode.  During her visit to Alabama, the NCAA investigator also attempted to confirm the validity of a separate claim that Cam Newton may have received discounts from a Montgomery-based clothier.

Of the lingering inquiry into the Auburn football program, Travis added:

The NCAA investigation has now stretched into its tenth month, leaving Auburn and SEC officials chastened. In SanDestin at the SEC spring meetings, Florida SEC Commissioner Mike Slive told me that there was no doubt the NCAA’s timeframe often conflicted with the immediacy of media coverage. That dichotomy, between media coverage of allegations and tangible proof of wrongdoing, leaves programs dwelling in a perpetual cloud of impropriety.

Often that cloud can impact recruiting, a point that was driven home to me by Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley in SanDestin. Indeed, it was Dooley’s questioning of the NCAA investigator in SanDestin that led to Chizik’s insistence on whether the NCAA had completed its investigation.

Recruiting issues may have prompted Chizik’s assertive tact, though the looting of the university’s “Auxiliary Enterprises-Athletics” fund by lawyers defending the school may too have something to do with it. Read more…

Confirmed: Auburn Has Spent $170,000 On Newton

Jon Solomon of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS reports today that Auburn University has - so far - spent $170,000 on behalf of Cam Newton.

Cecil Newton was at the BCS Championship Game

Those would be attorney fees in the quest to maintain Newton’s eligibilty for the completed 2010-11 season.

Sam Franklin Auburn Lead Attorney In Newton Case Repping Robert Geddie In FBI Case

(Same lawyer for Cam is Pat Dye, Bobby Lowder personal attorney)

Solomon: Read more…

Video: Cecil, Cam Newton Meet Inside Stadium

After USA TODAY columnist Christine Brennan’s report today that Cecil Newton is now claiming - through his attorney - that he did not attend the BCS Championship Game, video of Cecil and son Cam Newton’s postgame meeting inside University of Phoenix Stadium was brought to my attention.

Cecil Newton and Cam Newton inside stadium after BCS Championship Game

The video, originally aired by ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, was included in a piece about a heartwarming father-son experience at the BCS Game. (The sequence involving the Newtons is around the 2:14 mark of the ABC 33/40 video report.) Read more…

‘Twas Alabama’s 1st Fight Xmas Since .. Last Year

Here’s a photo titled “SnowCam” that was posted Christmas day on the BIRMINGHAM NEWS official website.

Snowcam Comments by Auburn Family

The “family” is not amused.

MSU AD Says Cam Affair Like ‘Wrestling With Pigs’

As the NCAA investigation into Mississippi State’s recruitment of Cam Newton lingers on, Saturday school athletic director Scott Stricklin offered an unflattering characterization of the situation to ESPN Gator Bowl sideline reporter Todd Harris.

During the Mississippi State-Michigan football game telecast, Harris said of an earlier conversation he had with Stricklin:

“I also had a chance to talk to him (Stricklin) about the Cam Newton affair, how that all went down. And he told me he feels like Mississippi State is on very solid ground (with the NCAA). “But one very telling comment that he told me, and I don’t know if this would be a homily or what, he said, ‘you know, when  you wrestle with pigs, you’re going to get dirty, but we’re pretty comfortable with where we are at Mississippi State.’”

Hard to take Stricklin’s characterization of the situation as anything but derogatory towards the Newtons. Read more…

Why Isn’t Big Ten’s Delany “Standing Up” Now?

After the NCAA elected to allow Cam Newton to play in Auburn’s bowl game this season despite the governing body determining that Newton’s father had broken NCAA rules, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany criticized the NCAA at the time for not forcing Newton to face “consequences.

Big 10 President Jim Delany As Pontius Pilate

(Same guy is singlehandedly keeping the BCS alive)

Delany’s criticism was noted by Pete Thamel of the NEW YORK TIMES:

Delany, a former N.C.A.A. investigator who is familiar with its nuances, said in a telephone interview that the N.C.A.A. “missed an opportunity to stand up.”

“There ought to be consequences. … We’ve gone to the board of directors to create bright lines, to encourage the N.C.A.A. to take creative risks to get everyone on a more level playing field,” he said. “This was an opportunity to apply a very reasonable concept. They chose to go with a very high standard instead of what’s more of a reasonable application given the facts and reality that we’re dealing with.”

Ken Gordon of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH reported yesterday that the same Delany who had been highly critical of the the NCAA for not “standing up” in the Cam Newton case “lobbied the NCAA to reinstate Ohio State players for the Sugar Bowl” after it was determined in early December that five Buckeye players had broken NCAA rules. Those players were later suspended for five games - but not the Sugar Bowl.

From Wednesday’s Dispatch:

On a day when five Ohio State players said they were sorry for violating NCAA rules, Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan was unapologetic for pressuring OSU to try to keep the players eligible for the game.

On Dec. 22, Ohio State announced that six players would be suspended for selling memorabilia and/or accepting discounts on tattoos sometime early in 2009.

But those suspensions will not take effect until the start of the 2011 season. OSU officials, along with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, successfully lobbied the NCAA to reinstate the players for the Sugar Bowl. Read more…

Husker’s Dad Got NU Biz Deal Before Son Signed

Yesterday the NCAA released this official statement in response to criticism of its decision to allow Cam Newton to play in the BCS Championship Game:

Put simply, had Cam Newton’s father or a third party actually received money or benefits for his recruitment, Cam Newton would have been declared ineligible regardless of his lack of knowledge.

Newton’s father had previously admitted to the NCAA to soliciting funds from Mississippi State in exchange for his son signing with the school to play football. Though NCAA reported it didn’t find evidence that Cecil Newton ever received funds following such solicitation.

Taylor Martinez's Dad's Corn Fed Apparel Company

(Taylor Martinez (r) with father Casey Martinez and Toby Gerhart two months ago)

Today Baxter Holmes of the LOS ANGELES TIMES reported that the father of star Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, Casey Martinez, received a licensing deal from Nebraska for his fledgling apparel brand 13 months before his son signed to play football at the school.

Casey Martinez had a deal with Nebraska nearly a year before his football-playing son, Taylor, did.

The father of Nebraska’s starting quarterback owns the sports apparel company Corn Fed, and he entered into a licensing agreement with the university’s athletic program about a year before his son committed to play football for the Cornhuskers.

In June 2007, records show, Nebraska became the first of four universities to sign contracts with Corn Fed. The others were Iowa State (April 2008), Iowa (June 2008) and Northern Iowa (February 2009), though the deal with Northern Iowa has since been canceled.

So what did the NCAA have to say about Taylor Martinez’s father, who before his son signed with the Huskers to play football essentially launched a brand of clothing with the Nebraska University deal? Read more…

Found: Auburn Athletics, FBI Wiretap Case Link

Earlier today I reported that the attorney most prominent in the defense of Auburn against the NCAA since 1991, Birmingham lawyer Sam Franklin, was also tied to a FBI investigation into political corruption that involved two men associated with Auburn athletics.

Sam Franklin Auburn Lead Attorney In Newton Case Repping Robert Geddie In FBI Case

(Auburn NCAA defense atty Franklin quietly took over 3 weeks ago)

Auburn booster Milton McGregor and Auburn alumnus Robert Geddie, a lobbyist whose firm is paid by a private Auburn Athletics fund, were ensnared in an FBI wiretap investigation that resulted in a federal criminal trial due to start on April 4. Both have been charged with crimes related to political corruption.

Last month TMZ reported that the FBI was looking into the Cam Newton situation and that the inquiry could somehow be related to McGregor’s current criminal proceeding. While the nature of that connection has not been confirmed, we now know exactly the role of Auburn NCAA defense attorney Franklin in McGregor’s upcoming federal criminal trial.

Three weeks ago Geddie, who is also on trial with McGregor, quietly terminated his original attorney Anthony Aaron Joseph while retaining Franklin. The move was not reported in the media.

Until now. Read more…

FBI Case Filing: Cam’s Auburn Lawyer Mentioned

On November 10, 2010, Kevin Scarbinsky of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS reported that the Birmingham law firm of Lightfoot, Franklin and White had been retained by Auburn to defend the school against recent inquiries involving Cam Newton and his father.

Sam Franklin Auburn Lead Attorney In Newton Case Served FBI Case Documents

(Cam’s Auburn lawyer Sam Franklin also repped Pat Dye)

More specifically, the News reported:

According to two people familiar with the Newton inquiry, the law firm’s point men on this issue are William King and Sam Franklin.

Beginning in 1991, it’s well-documented that attorney Sam Franklin and his firm have defended Auburn and its former football coach Pat Dye against multiple NCAA inquiries, including cases which resulted in serious NCAA sanctions being placed on the school’s football and basketball programs.

More specifically, Franklin served as Dye’s personal attorney when the then-Auburn coach was forced to resign after being caught on tape facilitating an improper bank loan to Tiger football player Eric Ramsey.

On November 17, 2010, TMZ.com reported a possible link between an FBI investigation into political corruption in Alabama - supported by thousands of wiretapped conversations - and the “Newton recruiting controversy.”:

According to sources connected to the probe … FBI agents looking into the Newton recruiting controversy are also asking about Milton McGregor — a dog track owner arrested last month for allegedly bribing Alabama politicians to vote pro gambling.

We’re told agents asked someone connected to the Newton case if he was familiar with McGregor or the bribery scandal.

McGregor recently donated $1 million to Auburn to help facilitate the construction of the school’s new basketball arena.

Also arrested by the FBI was prominent Auburn alumnus Robert Geddie, whose lobbying firm was reportedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by a private fundraising arm of Auburn athletics called Tigers Unlimited. (The same Tigers Unlimited that current Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs oversaw before taking over as AD.)

In all, 11 men were arrested as a result of FBI investigation.

Another of the those individuals charged in the political corruption case, Ronnie Gilley, filed a motion in U.S. District Court on December 3 that requested a continuance of the federal criminal trial he and his fellow 10 defendants were scheduled to face on April 4, 2011.

While Gilley’s request, which was subsequently denied, was of little consequence, one document filed in federal court by Gilley’s attorney may indicate that Auburn athletics could indeed be intertwined with the FBI’s wiretap-driven investigation. Read more…

Confirmed: Cam Newton Was Coached At Auburn

On November 1, four days before Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com broke the news that Cam Newton’s father Cecil Newton had solicited money for his son’s football services to Mississippi State, Cam and his father Cecil confirmed to Lars Anderson of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED that father Cecil alone made the decision for Cam to choose Auburn.

Cam Newton was coached at Auburn

Last December the choice of which college to attend came down to two schools—Auburn and Mississippi State. Newton preferred Starkville because of his close relationship with Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, who had been Newton’s offensive coordinator at Florida.

But Cecil thought his son should choose Auburn, which had an experienced offensive line (four starters were returning) and was only a two-hour drive from Atlanta.

Newton let his father make the final decision, and a few days before Christmas, while sitting at the dinner table in his brother’s house in Jacksonville, Cecil Sr. uttered two words that would radically alter the college football landscape: “It’s Auburn.”

Yesterday during an interview on ESPN television, Cam Newton said of that same decision: Read more…