image courtesy of trackemtigers.com
Where is the line?
I’m not sure how much you guys have been keeping up with this Cameron Newton news story. Obviously, as a big Auburn fan, I’m keeping up with it a little closer than are most people (and I know my blog is generally more religious in nature — though this story has a religious bent, for sure). If you’re not following along, here’s an extremely basic and oversimplified idea of what’s going on (which I will rush through in order to get to my big question).
- Cameron Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, admitted there was talk between he and an ex-MSU football player concerning money in exchange for his son’s enrollment to Mississippi State University — where Cameron ended up NOT going to play. [This from mrsec.com]
- This confession was offered after numerous accusations by several MSU recruiters and boosters alike, some unnamed and others on the record.
- This confession also came after denials were initially made by Cecil Newton in the past couple of weeks concerning pay-for-play arrangements or requests.
- Cecil Newton also claims that neither his wife nor his son ever knew anything at all about these discussions.
- As far as we know, there has not been any witness to speak at all to any such discussions having happened with other schools (including Auburn University). Auburn, who has known about this investigation since MSU turned in partial information to authorities in January, have determined Cameron Newton was not involved in any pay-to-play scheme and is fully eligible for play.
We obviously don’t yet have all the facts, but one huge question arises in my mind. And I’ve not yet read anyone asking this question:
Where is the line? How far away does a “representative” of a college athlete have to be before the athlete is not himself held responsible for that individual’s actions?
It seems we were all happy to call Cameron Newton innocent when it might have been Kenny Rogers asking for money from Mississippi State’s boosters. Kenny Rogers was just some evil, greedy, and scheming man — and Auburn and Cam Newton could never be held responsible for his nasty behavior.
But when Cecil Newton is doing the requesting “on behalf” of his son — even without his son’s knowledge — Cameron is no longer eligible?
What if it were Cam Newton’s brother who’d asked for money without him knowing? What if it had been his brother-in-law? What about his stepmother? Or an abusive father who lost custody in a divorce ten years prior? Grandmother? What if it was me who asked for money from Auburn, and agreed in exchange to deliver the quarterback?
Cameron Newton is 21 years old.. What if he were a 30-year old guy who’d come to college to play football after serving in the military or working for a while after high school? Would his dad asking for money then be a problem? What if it was his 10-year old son asking for money? His wife?
If Newton’s high school youth minister had asked for money, would he still be eligible? What if it was his coach from junior college in Texas? His auntie who always makes him sweaters for Christmas and just wants a little sumthin’ sumthin’ in return?
Where do we draw the line? That’s my big question. Whether there was money exchanged or not — no matter what’s true or false — I just want to know what happens when an athlete doesn’t know cash is being requested by a family member, a friend, or a pizza delivery guy? To what extent do we hold a 21-year old football player responsible for the actions of those with whom he has relationship (or doesn’t) — especially if he has no knowledge of the situation? Do we throw away a Heisman Trophy, a college education, a successful football season, and a university’s ability to compete in college athletics for the actions of a greedy weasel of a father? What about for the actions of a greedy weasel of a Kenny Rogers? What about for the actions of a greedy weasel of someone in between? This is a really important decision that someone’s likely got to make in the very near future.
Where is that line?