Kenny Rogers: Cecil Newton Put Price On Son
A former Mississippi State player who worked with agents says Cecil Newton told him it would take anywhere from $100,000 to $180,000 for his son, Cam Newton, to sign a scholarship with Mississippi State.
Kenny Rogers told ESPN radio 103.3 in Dallas on Thursday that when he and Cecil Newton met with two MSU coaches at a hotel in Starkville, Miss., last Nov. 27, one of the coaches said “No, no I don’t want to hear that,” when Cecil Newton asked about the payment for Cam Newton to attend Mississippi State.
Rogers was asked if Cecil Newton told him how much money it would take to get his son to play for Mississippi State. “Yes, he did,” Rogers said.
Asked how much, Rogers said the price would be: “Anywhere between $100,000 and $180,000.”
Cam Newton eventually signed with Auburn, where the school says the quarterback is eligible to play. Newton is a leading Heisman Trophy contender and has the unbeaten Tigers in the hunt for the national championship. He’s expected to play Saturday against rival Georgia.
Later in the interview, Rogers said he and Cecil Newton first talked after Cam Newton left the Florida Gators following the 2008 season. In the course of their conversations, he said Cecil Newton told him, “It’s not gonna be free this time.”
Rogers said he was involved with Cecil Newton only in regards to Mississippi State.
Rogers said that on Nov. 28, 2009, he and Cecil Newton followed each other out of Starkville, Miss., after the Ole Miss-Mississippi State game. He said Newton asked him: “What do you think is going to happen? You think it’s going to go through?”
Rogers said he was referred to a Mississippi State booster named Bill Bell. Rogers said he left Bell a message telling him he was with Cecil Newton, who wanted to know if the deal was going to happen.
Bell, when contacted Thursday night by ESPN.com, confirmed Cecil Newton did ask for money in exchange for Cam Newton signing with Mississippi State. Bell said he was contacted by the NCAA about the matter and spoke to an investigator earlier this week.
“That’s all I want to say about it at this point,” Bell said.
Bell, a Florida resident, was an offensive lineman at Mississippi State in the early 1980s and played with Rogers.
Rogers said he didn’t know if Cam Newton knew about the request for money. He said he did not meet Cam Newton until Nov. 27, 2009.
Rogers said he didn’t know anything about Newton’s recruitment at Auburn or any other school. He said he had “no idea” why Newton chose Auburn or if Auburn paid Newton.
While Rogers spoke, his attorney also was on the phone. The attorney, Doug Zeit, said there was never any discussion about Rogers getting paid out of the money Cecil Newton was requesting.
Mississippi State officials declined comment on Rogers’ interview Thursday.
A person who answered the telephone at Cecil Newton’s home in Atlanta said he wasn’t there.
Auburn declined comment through spokesman Kirk Sampson. The SEC also declined comment.
In an e-mail to ESPN.com, an NCAA spokeswoman said: “The solicitation of cash or benefits by a prospective student-athlete or another individual on his or her behalf is not allowed under NCAA rules.”
Rogers worked for Chicago-based agent Ian Greengross. The NFL Players Association said last week it had filed a disciplinary complaint against Greengross for “violating numerous provisions of the NFLPA’s agent regulations while recruiting and representing players.” The complaint also targets the actions of Rogers, whom it identifies as a recruiter for Greengross.
In another e-mail, a spokesman said: “Generally speaking, if a third party is marketing a student-athlete, there could be potential agent violations. Under NCAA rules, it doesn’t matter what you call yourself or how you are compensated, the actions are what triggers agent violation rules.”
The NCAA spokeswoman said: “The decision to rule a student-athlete ineligible is made by the university, not the NCAA. We do not suspend student-athletes. It is a school action. The university can then seek reinstatement on behalf of the student-athlete and reinstatement decisions are made by the NCAA.”
John Bond, a former Mississippi State quarterback and teammate of Rogers who told ESPN.com last week that a man seeking money to sign Cam Newton had approached him, told ESPN.com on Thursday: “My story hasn’t changed. I absolutely talked with Kenny Rogers, and there are phone records that will show that.”
Rogers said in an interview last Friday with ESPN radio in Dallas he hadn’t talked to Bond in more than 20 years. In the same interview last Friday, Rogers also denied having recruited Newton to Mississippi State.
“A school never paid me for a kid and alumni never paid me for a kid. Period. Point blank,” Rogers said.
Rogers’ attorney said Rogers is scheduled to meet with the NCAA on Tuesday. Bond said he’s scheduled to meet with the FBI on Tuesday and plans to turn over his phone records and anything else the FBI asks for at that point. He said the FBI reached out to his attorney earlier this week wanting to talk with him about the Newton situation, in particular if kids were being shopped out to colleges. That meeting was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was postponed by the FBI until next Tuesday.
“Until I speak with the FBI, I’d prefer not to say much more,” Bond said.
Earlier this week, ESPN reported that two sources who recruit for Mississippi State said Cecil and Cam Newton, in separate phone conversations, told them that Cam Newton’s college choice would be part of a pay-for-play plan.
A source told ESPN on Thursday the phone conversations are part of the NCAA’s investigation into the recruitment process of the Auburn quarterback. SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said reports from Mississippi State to the league office did not mention the phone calls, while a source said their existence was verbalized to the SEC.
Bloom said he could not provide what the allegations did include.
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.”
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 school said it didn’t provide additional information requested by the SEC to the conference until July 2010 because of “time-consuming eligibility issues involving non-football matters in the winter and spring of 2010.”
The NCAA is investigating allegations surrounding the Newtons in regards to the recruiting process. Cam Newton declined comment earlier this week.
A week ago, ESPN.com reported a man who said he represented Newton allegedly was soliciting a six-figure payment to secure the quarterback’s signature on a national letter of intent. 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 last season, and said he was representing Newton. That man was identified by other sources as Rogers, who played at Mississippi State from 1982 to ’85.
Bond said an NCAA investigator came to Mississippi to meet with him in early September as well as with Mississippi State officials.
When interviewed by ESPN.com last Thursday at the family’s home in Atlanta, Cecil Newton denied any wrongdoing.
Rogers has a company called Elite Football Preparation, which holds camps in Alabama, Chicago and Mississippi, and matches football prospects with colleges.