Does Mullen’s Wife Hold Key To Cam’s Eligibility?

While the NCAA has temporarily rendered Cam Newton eligible to play football for Auburn, the governing body has made (somewhat) clear that its investigation into Newton’s recruitment is ongoing.

Dan and Megan Mullen

(Dan and Megan Mullen)

Though there’s a good chance none of the controversy involving Newton’s recruitment ever would’ve come to light had Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com not broken the news on November 5 that a third party, later identified as Kenny Rogers, solicited money from Mississippi State in exchange for Cam Newton’s enrollment at MSU.

Excerpt:

During the height of star quarterback Cam Newton’s recruitment out of junior college last year, a man who said he represented Newton allegedly was soliciting a six-figure payment to secure his signature on a national letter of intent, ESPN.com has learned.

Rogers later said that he had asked for the cash after he was directed to do so by Newton’s father Cecil. Rogers also subsequently noted that Newton made his solicitation known to Mississippi State coaches during an in-person meeting in November, 2009.

Less than a week after ESPN.com broke the Newton story, Joe Schad of ESPN.com reported the only story to date that points to Cam Newton having direct knowledge of the “pay-for-play plan” concocted by his father and Rogers for his football services.

Excerpt:

Two sources who recruit for Mississippi State said that Cecil Newton and his son, quarterback Cam Newton, said in separate phone conversations that his college choice would be part of a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.

Mississippi State compliance officials relayed the alleged conversations to Southeastern Conference compliance officials in January, according to two other sources close to the football program.

The SEC office later disputed that it had been made aware by MSU of such phone calls.

In its ruling yesterday, the NCAA essentially confirmed the original Nov. 5 ESPN.com report that Cecil Newton and Kenny Rogers actively marketed Cam Newton’s football skills to Mississippi State. But the NCAA did not comment on ESPN.com’s story that Cam and his father acknowledged taking money in phone calls to two MSU recruiters.

Of course, if the NCAA were to find that those calls took place, Cam Newton’s college football career would be over.

Since the ESPN.com report of the alleged Newton phone calls, no one affiliated with Mississippi State has questioned the veracity of the report, but clearly Schad’s claim has gotten little to no traction from the NCAA and the media.

Why?

Cam Newton has said that his decision to choose Auburn over Dan Mullen’s Mississippi State squad, which he claimed to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED was ultimately made by his father, was one of the toughest things he’s had to do in his life.

The week of the Auburn-Mississippi State game this season, Newton described to the media the emotional agony the decision put him through.

From Charles Bennett of the FLORENCE (AL) TIMES-DAILY:

When he chose Auburn over Mississippi State, Newton said the hardest thing wasn’t telling Mullen, but telling Mullen’s wife.

“Probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my recent life, honestly,” Newton said of choosing Auburn over Mississippi State. “Not just telling him, because we had a good relationship.

Mrs. Megan, it was even harder. We had such a close relationship. This wasn’t just my decision. It wasn’t just how I feel. I’ve got to go through so many people to see what they think, my family, the people close to me. It just felt like my career should be played at Auburn.”

“Mrs. Megan” is Megan Mullen, the wife of Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen.

From Andy Bitter of the COLUMBUS (GA) LEDGER-INQUIRER:

“It was probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my recent life. … I think our relationship is a long one, far beyond football,” Newton said.

From Mathew Stevens of the STARKVILLE (MS) DAILY NEWS:

“It was probably one of the hardest decisions I have made in my recent life,” Newton said. “Not just telling him because we had a good relationship but having to tell his wife – Ms. Megan – that was one of the hardest things because I don’t know we had such a close relationship.

“This decision wasn’t just merely all my decision. I have to clear it with the whole nine yards. Not just how I feel but I got to go through so many people to see what they think whether it be my family and the close people towards me.”

Dan Mullen said of Newton that week to the Times-Daily:

“We recruited him hard and I know him, know his family,”

Cam’s father Cecil Newton told the Ledger-Enquirer of the inexorable connection his family came to have with Mississippi State thanks to the relationship between the Newton and Mullen families.

“Some people thought we were just totally outright married to Mississippi State,” Cecil said.

Why were the two families so close?

Three years before Newton chose Auburn over MSU, Mullen helped recruit Newton to Florida - where he was the Gators’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

During an interview with Pete Thamel of the NEW YORK TIMES in 2008, Tim Tebow mentioned then-teammate Cam Newton while revealing he had a closer relationship to Mullen than Florida head coach Urban Meyer.

We’ve had a few quarterbacks meetings this year where we haven’t even talked about football. I know two meetings for sure. One in two-a-days and one during the season. Before practice in our meetings we’ve talked about religious stuff, politics, movies, just odd stuff.

Pregnancies, because his wife is pregnant. Just so much stuff. And we can debate now. Ask Johnny or Cam (the Florida backups), ask them about it. (Laughs.) We can talk about stuff for a while now. We have a good time doing it, now.

On Oct. 20, 2009, Kyle Veazey of the JACKSON CLARION-LEDGER reported Megan Mullen talking about her relationship with Cam Newton:

Tim Tebow can’t beat Dan Mullen.

Tebow admits it. Even has a witness.

OK, OK. So this doesn’t involve the football field, where the Heisman Trophy-winning Florida quarterback will face his old position coach, now the Mississippi State head coach, on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Scott Field.

It’s a competition infinitely more intense, played around the television in the Mullen family’s old home in Gainesville, Fla.

It’s the sports trivia Scene-It game, the one “powered by” ESPN.

There, Mullen was invincible.

“Players never actually beat him because he’s so old and he knows all those old players and stuff,” Tebow said.

Mullen’s wife, Megan, agrees.

“Yeah, because Dan’s an old man,” she said, laughing. “… They used to just jump up and scream at the TV, he and Cam (Newton, a former Florida quarterback).”

Cam Newton has confirmed that Cecil Newton chose Auburn for him and that he himself contacted Megan Mullen to inform her of his father’s decision.

We’ve also confirmed through Kenny Rogers that Cecil Newton made his intention to solicit money for Cam Newton’s services known, in-person, to Mississippi State coaches in November, 2009.

Now for the key passage in Joe Schad’s report last month:

Prior to Newton’s commitment to Auburn, one of the recruiters said Cecil Newton told him it would take “more than a scholarship” to bring his son to Mississippi State, a request the source said the school would not meet. Cecil Newton also referred the recruiter to a third person who would provide more specifics, the source said.

After Newton committed to Auburn, another source said an emotional Cam Newton phoned another recruiter to express regret that he wouldn’t be going to Mississippi State, stating that his father, Cecil, had chosen Auburn for him because “the money was too much.”

Article 13 (13.1.2.2) of the NCAA Division I rules manual specifies that spouses of coaches are allowed to be in contact with recruits during official on-campus visits and, under certain circumstances, during official off-campus visits.

Dan Mullen Wife Megan Is Permissible Recruiter For Mississippi State

As the spouse of Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen, Megan Mullen is classified officially by the NCAA as a “permissible recruiter” for her husband’s football team.

Article 13 (13.1.2.4) further states that a permissible recruiter can talk to a recruit on the phone only “if the prospect initiates the conversation and the call is not for recruiting purposes.

Once again, from the Starkville Daily News on Cam Newton and Dan Mullen after Newton’s father chose Auburn over Mississippi State:

“It was probably one of the hardest decisions I have made in my recent life,” Newton said. “Not just telling him because we had a good relationship but having to tell his wife – Ms. Megan – that was one of the hardest things because I don’t know we had such a close relationship.

“This decision wasn’t just merely all my decision. I have to clear it with the whole nine yards. Not just how I feel but I got to go through so many people to see what they think whether it be my family and the close people towards me.”

Dan Mullen said of Newton that week to the Times-Daily:

“We recruited him hard and I know him, know his family,”

Is it unreasonable to suggest that Dan and Megan Mullen are, “two sources who recruit for Mississippi State” who ESPN.com reported, “said that Cecil Newton and his son, quarterback Cam Newton, said in separate phone conversations that his college choice would be part of a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.”?

If so, surely the NCAA can’t possibly be aware of those conversations.

Especially considering the SEC has already denied - on the record - that it ever received any information about such phone conversations from Mississippi State.

Right Commissoner Slive?

Right President Emmert?

Follow Brooks on Twitter for real-time updates.