According to ESPN, Auburn’s superman quarterback, Cam Newton, may have had his services shopped around after his year playing for a junior college in Texas:
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.
Former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond told ESPN.com a teammate of Bond’s at Mississippi State in the early 1980s contacted him soon after Newton’s official visit to Mississippi State during the Ole Miss game in December, and said he was representing Newton.
“He said it would take some cash to get Cam,” Bond said. “I called our athletic director, Greg Byrne, and he took it from there. That was pretty much it.”
Multiple sources told ESPN.com that Mississippi State called the SEC office with Bond’s information shortly after he brought it to the attention of the school.John Reed/US PresswireAuburn’s Cam Newton has led his team to a No. 2 BCS ranking.
Sources told ESPN.com the former teammate is Kenny Rogers, who played at Mississippi State from 1982 to ’85. Rogers operates a Chicago-based company called Elite Football Preparation, which holds camps in Chicago, Alabama and Mississippi. A Lexis search for that business lists Kenneth Rogers as the contact and his title as “agent.” A Birmingham News story from 2008 said Elite Football Preparation “matches high school athletes with college programs.”
The article goes on to state that Cam left the final decision about where to go to school–Mississippi State or Auburn–up to his father, Cecil Newton, implying that it may have been Cecil Newton, pastor of a church in Newnan, GA, that was behind the shopping of Cam’s talents.
It violates NCAA rules if money changes hands for a player’s services. Never mind the millions that change hands every Saturday at the turnstiles of the stadiums. For an athlete to retain his eligibility, he must not receive anything of it, except the opportunity to earn a degree. So every Saturday in the SEC, young black men toil at labor that rewards the biggest, fastest and strongest among them for the enjoyment and enrichment of already rich white men that don’t pay them a dime for their efforts. How is this substantially different than plantation slavery?
And make no mistake. SEC football is mostly played by young black men. The starting offenses, defenses and kicking teams of virtually every SEC football team virtually every season sport an overwhelming majority of blacks. But nothing can be paid to any of them, except a degree. And given the limited time and resources available to devote to it, the degree most earn (if at all) is probably not worth much more than the cheap faux sheepskin it’s printed on.
Enough already with the fiction that college football is an amateur sport. College football is nothing more or less than pro football’s training academy. Since the NFL reaps the rewards of the NCAA’s system while paying little or none of its costs, it wisely refuses to step in and queer up the deal. They won’t even allow a player to be drafted out of college before his junior season. If, as antitrust law provides, monopolizing behavior that restricts the free trade of goods and services is illegal, then the relationship between the NCAA and the NFL regarding player treatment would seem ripe for a courtroom attack.
Cam Newton will ultimately have earned millions for the Auburn University athletic department by the end of this season, whether Auburn is able or not to run the tables and win the BCS championship. All he’ll have to show for his efforts will be free tuition and a miserly stipend, maybe worth a total of about $20,000. That’s a whole lotta money left on the table. Little wonder that some of it may have fallen into his or his family’s lap. And what, exactly, is so terrible about that?
If there’s a culprit here, Cecil Newton, Cam’s dad, seems the probable one. It’s doubtful the son would be so brash as to orchestrate a payout in the six figures, as alleged. But who could blame the dad? His son’s talents are worth millions. Why should he allow his son to work for free like a slave? Aren’t those days of Southern plantation owners buying and selling slaves to work the fields with nothing to show but a sore back and meager rations and quarter over? If it is proved that money has changed hands for Newton’s services, he and everyone else involved is going to find out the hard way that uppity football players or their families will not be tolerated.
I can just imagine some plantation boss in a tweed suit standing on the front porch of the main house bellowing to a slave brought before him in chains, “Boy, you will work for nuthin’. You unnerstan’ me boy? Don’t you look at me boy, keep yo eyes down and git out dere and git to work.”
College football, especially in the South, is more similar to an Antebellum plantation than anybody’d care to admit. Maybe Cam’s case will turn the tide (no pun intended) towards acknowledging the simple reality that people who make money for an organization should be justly compensated for their efforts. If Cam can move the NCAA towards finally acknowledging that college football is an amateur sport in name only, and even then, only for those that play it, he might one day be hailed for more than just his exploits on the gridiron.
Post Script: If you think I’m just a homey spouting the Auburn line, you should understand that I graduated from Auburn’s hated rival, the University of Alabama.