I don't know if any back room deals went down to get Cam Newton's eligibility cleared up this week. I suspect some did happen, but I can't be sure. If there were some, they completely backfired for those involved. The outcome of the eligibility decision and the timing of it only seemed to make non-Auburn college football fans even angrier about the Newton case.
Seeing how public opinion has violently turned against his organization, NCAA President Mark Emmert put out a statement this evening:
We recognize that many people are outraged at the notion that a parent or anyone else could "shop around" a student-athlete and there would possibly not be repercussions on the student-athlete's eligibility.
I'm committed to further clarifying and strengthening our recruiting and amateurism rules so they promote appropriate behavior by students, parents, coaches and third parties. We will work aggressively with our members to amend our bylaws so that this type of behavior is not a part of intercollegiate athletics.
That's all that's from Emmert directly, but hit the link because it fully explains the NCAA's decision-making process. The most important part of this statement is that it acknowledges that Cecil Newton's actions largely fell through the cracks of NCAA bylaws. The simple fact is that no one ever expected a parent to solicit a payment from one school, not get it, and send his son to a different school for no payment.
The rest of it is worth reading, but it does boil down into these three points:
- This week's decision signals that the NCAA believes Cam Newton personally did no wrong. It does not anticipate getting any evidence to the contrary in the future.
- Everything else is still on the table with this investigation, including issuing penalties to the schools involved.
- Please stop bashing us. And you're never going to get all the information that we have, so don't hold your breath.
I think this is about all the NCAA can do at this point. It's a bureaucracy that lives by its bureaucratic nature and has red tape flowing through its veins. It has its processes to follow, and Emmert himself confessed that the rules allowed for this exact situation to play out as it did.
But is it enough to calm America down? My guess: not a chance.