On Wednesday the NCAA released a statement announcing it has closed a 13-month investigation into the recruitment of quarterback Cam Newton — the Heisman Trophy winner who is now lighting up NFL defenses.
The investigation was a dark cloud that hung over Auburn’s unbeaten run last fall after reports surfaced that Newton’s father had dangled his son in front of the Tigers with a $180,000 asking price.
“The NCAA enforcement staff is committed to a fair and thorough investigative process,” the NCAA said in a statement. “As such, any allegations of major rules violations must meet a burden of proof, which is a higher standard than rampant public speculation online and in the media. The allegations must be based on credible and persuasive information and includes a good-faith belief that the Committee on Infractions could make a finding.
“As with any case, should the enforcement staff become aware of additional credible information, it will review the information to determine whether further investigation is warranted.”
In addition to the much-publicized Newton investigation, the NCAA also cleared the Tigers of allegations made by four former players that they received payments during their recruitment.
Newton was declared ineligible by Auburn four days prior to the SEC championship game, but the NCAA reinstated him the following day with the explanation that there was not “sufficient evidence” that Newton or Auburn knew of his father’s efforts to profit off of his son’s college signing.
Former Tigers Raven Gray, Stanley McClover, Chaz Ramsey and Troy Reddick all told HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” that they received thousands of dollars, delivered in book bags, envelopes and handshakes, during their recruitment.
Now, after spending $266,130 on attorney’s fees according to The Associated Press, the Tigers are understandably happy to put the investigation in their rear-view mirror.