SEC: ESPN Report Wrong, Calls Never Reported

Tuesday Joe Schad of ESPN reported these allegations against Cam and Cecil Newton:

ESPN story about Cam Newton phone calls wrong

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.

John Zenor of the ASSOCIATED PRESS reports that the SEC has since confirmed that it never received any information regarding alleged phone calls involving the Newtons. From Zenor’s AP report:

SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said Wednesday evening that there was also no mention of the reported conversations in either of the school’s reports to the league.

That’s more than just a minor detail. That’s the whole story.

Now we know why the SEC and NCAA never did anything about ESPN’s allegations that the Newtons were involved in phone conversations that would constitute major NCAA violations. The two organizations, contrary to Schad’s report, never knew about any such phone calls.

This of course also calls into question the veracity of the information provided ESPN by the “two people who recruit for Mississippi State.”

Information that, based on the serious nature of it, it isn’t unreasonable to expect ESPN to verify with the SEC - on or off-the-record - before publishing. Or, at the very least, sources outside the MSU football program.

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said yesterday that only MSU coaches are allowed by NCAA rules to officially “recruit for Mississippi State.” So based on Schad’s characterization of his sources in his ESPN report, MSU coaches passed the ESPN reporter inaccurate information.

Since we know that the information in Schad’s report was egregiously inaccurate, is there a chance that the “two sources who recruit for Mississippi State” weren’t actually authorized to do so? And if that’s the case, could the actions of Schad’s “two sources” end up constituting NCAA violations on the part of Mississippi State?

Mistakes happen. I’ve made plenty of them myself, but a mistake at this level has enormous consequences on Newton and the Auburn football program.

None of this is to say that the Newtons didn’t commit some manner of NCAA violation, but the SEC’s debunking of ESPN’s story certainly goes a long way in explaining why the SEC and NCAA haven’t done anything as it pertains to Newton’s situation.

It also lends credence to the possibility that, in all fairness, the two ESPN reports on Mississippi State may have been completely independent. (Contrary to my earlier speculation.)

I’ve contacted ESPN about the inaccuracy of Schad’s report and have inquired to see if a correction and/or clarification will be forthcoming.

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