Mississippi state officials meet with key figure in Newton scandal
Kenny Rogers, the man alleged to have been a go-between for the father of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Mississippi State boosters in a pay-for-play scheme, met for "four to five hours" Thursday in Chicago with officials from the Mississippi Secretary of State's office, Rogers' attorney said.
Doug Zeit, who represents Rogers, said his client gave officials the same information he gave NCAA investigators in a meeting last month. Zeit said Rogers told investigators he was approached by Cecil Newton to broker a deal that would pay the elder Newton $180,000 for his son to sign with Mississippi State.
Zeit said investigators seemed particularly interested in agent activity. Rogers, who runs a football recruiting service, has been linked in the past with Chicago-based agent Ian Greengross. Zeit also said investigators asked Rogers questions about Cecil Newton's role and whether Newton may have been acting as an agent. Mississippi is one of the states that uses the Uniform Athlete Agent Act, a set of laws governing the conduct of those who represent athletes. Violators of the law are subject to a maximum of two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
"When you're soliciting money for your kid to attend a school," Zeit said, "you're kind of acting as an agent. ... I think they were wondering how that fits together."
Mississippi Secretary of State spokeswoman Pamela Weaver said Thursday that it is department policy to decline comment on pending investigations.
Cam Newton was in Florida on Thursday, where he won both the Maxwell and the Davey O'Brien Awards. He is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday. An NCAA eligibility committee ruled Newton eligible to play last week. According to an NCAA release, investigators could not determine whether the younger Newton had any knowledge of the scheme. No one at Auburn has been accused of any wrongdoing.
Before the Home Depot College Football Awards Show, Cam Newton granted an interview to ESPN. "At the end of the day, whatever has been done, whatever has been said, that is my father and I love him unconditionally," Newton told anchor Chris Fowler. Newton also maintained that he has done nothing wrong.
The elder Newton also made news Thursday. Cecil Newton released a statement saying he wouldn't attend Saturday's Heisman Trophy presentation. "So that my son Cam Newton can receive all the honors and [congratulations] that he has worked so hard to accomplish [without distraction], I have decided not to be in attendance at the ceremony; as it will perhaps rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment," Cecil Newton said in the statement.
Zeit said he did not know where the Mississippi Secretary of State's office investigation would turn now, but he believes Rogers' involvement in the case has concluded. He said the FBI, which also has been investigating the case, has not sought an interview with Rogers.
"I suspect this will be the end of Kenny's involvement," Zeit said. "I don't think there is anyone else who will want to ask him questions."
Zeit said Rogers continues to speak because he wants to make clear that Cecil Newton initiated the scheme. "He's happy to have this behind him," Zeit said. "He's tired of reading that he's the guy that caused all the problems. In reality, it's Cecil that caused all the problems."