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AU: Cecil Newton Didn’t Violate Agreement By Showing Up At BCS Title Game

Hours before Auburn’s BCS Championship Game showdown with Oregon, Auburn AD Jay Jacobs informed the media Cecil Newton would not attend the game out of respect for his son.

Minutes after the game, there Newton was hugging his son inside dome in Glendale.

For days after the game, media members asked if Newton’s appearance broke Auburn’s pledge to disassociate the elder Newton from the Tiger program.

Now nearly two weeks later, we have an answer.  Jacobs said yesterday that Cam Newton’s father did not violate a mutual agreement with the school by showing up at the game.

“My understanding is he actually came in after the game was over for the celebration,” Jacovs said.  “Now, I haven’t spoken to Mr. Newton.  But based on what his attorney said, that’s my understanding.  As far as I’m concerned, he didn’t go against anything we mutually agreed upon.”

Newton’s attorney said last week that Cam’s papa watched the game off site and then went to the stadium afterwards.

“I would imagine, just like at our place, when the game is over the door is open and there you go,” Jacobs said when asked how Newton might have entered the stadium (which would probably have greater security than a typical AU game… being the national title game and all).  He then said, “I don’t have any idea” how he got in.

Newton’s attorney has not said where his client watched the game. 

But Cecil arrived only after the final field goal, it stands to reason that he left a nearby hotel, restaurant or sports bar and made his walk to the stadium during what turned out to be his son’s game-winning drive.  Hard to imagine him walking out on that one.

Then again, maybe he was using Star Trek technology and beamed himself from Point A to Point B lickety-split.

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Turns Out Cecil Newton Was At Last Night’s Game After All

Before last night’s BCS Championship Game, Auburn AD Jay Jacobs said that AU and Cecil Newton had “mutually agreed” that it was best for Cam’s dad not to be in attendance.

“Out of the highest respect that Cecil has for Cameron, he won’t be here today,” Jacobs said.  Perhaps you heard Brent Musberger push this same line during the broadcast.

Well, it wasn’t true.  The elder Newton was at the game, was on the field after the game, was photographed at the game, and was even ratted out by Auburn center Ryan Pugh.

The website SportsByBrooks.com — a site Auburn fans have come to loathe — writes the following:


“Now, with the indisputable disconnect between the Auburn athletic dept. and Cecil Newton, it isn’t unreasonable to wonder what else Auburn doesn’t know about.”


I will say this once more (with feeling):

God, I hope Cam Newton turns pro.  I do not want to cover him or his father ever again.  There’s just too much nonsense involved.  Best of luck in the NFL, Cam.  Go.  Go now.

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MSU AD On Newtons: “When You Wrestle With Pigs You’re Gonna Get Dirty”

Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin spoke his mind to ESPN sideline reporter Todd Harris during Saturday’s absolute beatdown of Michigan in the Gator Bowl.

According to Harris, he asked Stricklin about the Cam Newton fiasco and the way the MSU athletic department handled the matter.  Here’s Harris’ verbatim:


“He told me he feels like Mississippi State is on very solid ground.  But one very telling comment that he told me — and I don’t know if this would be a homily or what — but he said, ‘You know, when you wrestle with pigs you’re gonna get dirty, but we feel pretty comfortable with where we are at Mississippi State.’”




Obviously, we’re having to take Harris’ word for what Stricklin told him, but it’s hard to imagine an ESPN reporter flat making something like that up.

So two questions remain:

1.  Why would Stricklin say something so inflammatory to a reporter?  We in the media get tired of politically correct answers, but there’s a reason folks give them.  It’s surprising that an SEC athletic director would so let his guard down.

2.  If Cam and Cecil Newton were pigs, why were MSU coaches wrestling with them in the first place?  And if Newton had signed with State — albeit without taking any cash — would MSU have still reported his father’s request for money?  (No.)  And would Stricklin have compared the Newtons to pigs to an ESPN reporter.  (No.)

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Cecil Heading To NYC, But Heisman Winners Don’t Want Him There

I’m over the whole Cam Newton mess.  So personally, I don’t give a hoot if his father shows up for the Heisman Trophy presentation on Saturday.  But in this age of the 24-hour news cycle, folks have got to fill time with something.  Which is why “Will Cecil go to the Heisman” mania is sweeping the country.

Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com tweeted yesterday — do I need to tell you how much I hate Twitter? — the following:


“Cecil Newton was on the list of the people submitted by Auburn to travel up & get seats in the player’s section of Heisman ceremony.”


But according to 1987 Heisman winner Tim Brown: “I’ve talked to some past winners and they’d rather (Cecil Newton) not be (at the ceremony).  For (Cecil) to be there would be saying, ‘I’m bigger than my son.’”

That according to BamaOnline.com by way of SportsByBrooks.com.

I’m not sure how Cecil’s showing up would say, “I’m bigger than my son,” but I do understand why folks connected to the award might not want the elder Newton to attend.

However, this moment will be Cam’s moment.  If he wants his father to share in it with him, then that seems to be Cam’s business.

But hey… maybe Cam doesn’t even know that his father is planning to attend. 


(By the way, you can follow us on Twitter by clicking here.  Hey, we’re one of Maxim’s Top 100 Twitter Accounts Every Guy Should Follow, don’t ya know?)

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NCAA Prez Wants To Change Rules To Prevent Future Newton Rulings

We’ll start with Cam Newton this morning… and hopefully be done with him from an off-field sense for the day.

After the NCAA ruled on Newton Wednesday, this site (and nearly everyone else on earth) said that the NCAA had created a pretty large loophole in its own rulebook with its decision.

There were a few writers out there — misguided it seems — who disagreed.  Some went so far as to say that those of us talking about loopholes, precedents and slippery slopes were only trying to scare Auburn fans.  Some Auburn fans, naturally, suggested that we were just being anti-Auburn.

Well, as we noted yesterday, none other than Mike Slive himself admitted that a loophole was created by allowing someone to go unpunished even though his father had solicited money from a school’s boosters/coaches.

And now you can add NCAA president Mark Emmert to that chorus as well.

“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,” the new president said on the NCAA’s website.

He also said that the NCAA is committed to “further clarifying and strengthening our recruiting and amateurism rules so they promote appropriate behavior by students, parents, coaches and third parties.”

Finally, Emmert said that the NCAA will “work aggressively with our members to amend our bylaws so that this type of behavior is not a part of intercollegiate athletics.”

Hmmm.  So I guess 99.5% of the world was right on this one… while Auburn fans — excuse me, some Auburn fans — simply took their guy’s side (and took aim on anyone questioning the NCAA’s ruling). 

And then there were those columnists and writers who were among that .5% of the world that was wrong.  Ah, we all burn the biscuits now and again.

Slive.  Emmert.  SEC.  NCAA. 

All now admit a loophole was created with the Newton ruling.  All say they have to work quickly to close it.

With that, we close the case on this “argument.”


Other notes:

* I want to make it clear that no one here at MrSEC is “outraged” by the NCAA’s ruling on Newton.  A loophole was created and Newton was given a benefit of the doubt that previous student-athletes have not been given.  That’s odd.  It’s our job to point that out.  But we’re glad he is eligible to play tomorrow — as he’s the most entertaining player in college football — and if Auburn defeats South Carolina we’ll be excited to watch an Auburn-Oregon shoot-em-up featuring Newton behind center. 

* George Lawson, the attorney for the Newton family, told WSB-TV in Atlanta that “Cam’s father participated in the investigation truthfully and honestly in terms of what he knew and what he didn’t know, regardless of the consequences.”  He also said that he “would hope” the investigation is over, “but if it is not at an end, Cam and his family will continue to participate.”  So please stop emailing me notes saying that this was all Kenny Rogers and that there’s no proof Cecil Newton did anything wrong.  Cecil Newton met with the NCAA.  The NCAA said he was in on asking for cash.  He and his lawyer aren’t arguing that point.  For a reader (fan) to argue what Newton is not is simply childish and closed-minded.

* We still believe a simple one-game retroactive suspension (and forfeiture of the Arkansas State game) would have penalized the Newton family fairly and would have allowed Auburn to still compete for the SEC and BCS titles.

Finis.  (Hopefully.)

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“The Son Didn’t Know?” That Doesn’t Matter

I am far from a hanging judge.  I’m not someone who believes this world is a “far too forgiving” place.  Quite the contrary.  I think we’re a bloodthirsty lot.  So I myself am not out for blood with regards to L’affaire Newton.

That said, I do believe that the NCAA has a rulebook for a reason.  It may be an overstuffed, hard-to-read, hard-to-enforce rulebook, but there’s a reason it exists.  And in that rulebook, the most important regulation — far above all others — is that college athletes aren’t to be paid.

Cam Newton’s father attempted to break that rule.  He asked for cash.  The NCAA has now decreed that to be the case and the folks at Auburn and in the SEC office have accepted that as fact, too.  The Newtons have not denied that charge, either. 

So we have an Established Fact: Newton told Mississippi State representatives they could buy his son.  (As we’ve pointed out, it’s never been established that he ever had any similar conversations with anyone representing Auburn.)

In the aftermath of yesterday’s surprising decision — a decision which Mike Slive himself admits will lead the SEC to push legislation to close the loophole that it just opened — I’ve seen one defense thrown about time and again.

“The son didn’t know what the father was doing.”

Apparently he did not. 

But that doesn’t mean a thing to me.  And it shouldn’t matter to you, either.


As it stands, Cecil Newton asked Mississippi State officials for money.  They turned him down and then — after his son signed with Auburn — they turned him in.  The NCAA has ruled that his son can play ball for Auburn because A) no money changed hands and B) Cam Newton didn’t know what his father was doing.

But if Point B is part of this equation, why even worry about Point A?  To explain, let’s shake up this scenario a tad.

Let’s say Cecil Newton had asked Mississippi State officials for money.  Let’s say they actually paid him $180,000 for his son’s signature.  Now let’s say that Newton took the cash… but still told his son to sign with Auburn.  Let’s also say that Cam Newton knew nothing of the cash from MSU or his dad’s double-cross.

First of all, MSU would not be quick to cry, “Hey, uh, we paid this guy $180,000 but he didn’t sign with us.”  But for the sake of argument let’s say they told the NCAA.

Now, if the NCAA had evidence that Cecil Newton had made cash off of his son, would it still rule Cam Newton eligible for Auburn?  Of course not.  He would be declared ineligible.  At least for a few games.

But in our scenario Cam Newton still knew nothing of his father’s solicitations.  Sure Cecil Newton would have broken a rule by taking money, but his son didn’t know about it.  Remember the NCAA’s ruling?


“In determining how a violation impacts a student-athlete’s eligibility, we must consider the young person’s responsibility.  Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement.”


Every word of that would also apply in our scenario in which Cecil Newton did receive payment. 

Look, if you want to argue that no money changed hands… fine.  I’m good with that one.  If you want to say that asking for money isn’t a crime unless you shake hands and agree to accept said money… okay, that sounds silly, but I’ll give it to you.

But let’s drop the “How do you punish someone for what his father did” nonsense. 

If Cecil Newton had had a million bucks wired to a Swiss bank account, Cam Newton would be facing some form of suspension.  Period.  Whether he knew of papa’s ill-gotten gains or not.

So Cam’s knowledge of the solicitation (or lack thereof) really doesn’t mean anything.  It all comes down to rule-breaking. 

In this case, the NCAA and SEC have chosen to look the other way regarding Cecil Newton’s solicitation of cash.  And they’re using Cam’s lack of knowledge as a way to defend that decision.


Incredibly, the NCAA could have simply given Newton a retroactive one-game suspension (not unlike the penalty given to Damon Stoudamire in 1995) and all of this mess could have been put to bed.

Auburn would still be playing for a conference title on Saturday.  Newton would still be in uniform.  And voters would likely still push a 12-1 Tiger squad into the BCS title game.

Do you seriously believe voters would look any more suspiciously at Auburn had the NCAA/SEC had handed down a one-game forfeiture (of the Arkansas State game) and declared Newton’s debt to society paid?

I’m guessing even Cam Newton knows that that would have been a fair penalty.

Even though what he knows really doesn’t matter. 

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Writer Proves People Are Happy To Judge Newton/Auburn/Chizik With Or Without Facts

I think Cam Newton’s father asked for money from Mississippi State.  I think the younger Newton had to have known about it.  And I think someone at Auburn probably spoke with the Newtons about money, too.

But I can’t prove one bit of any of that.

Therefore, in my view, I can’t hold anything I think against Cam Newton, Gene Chizik or Auburn until something is actually, ya know, proven.

That obviously makes me different from Josh Weinfuss.  Weinfuss is a sportswriter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.  As such, he has a vote for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.

When he saw Chizik’s name on this year’s ballot, he decided to vote AU’s coach 8th on his eight-man list. 


“I know just about as much as everybody else does.  I’m not covering the scandal, in which accusations are being tossed around like Newton’s passes that his father, Cecil Newton, tried to orchestrate a pay-to-play deal worth $180,000, but I’ve read my fair share on it.  Which is why I voted Chizik eighth out of eight.”


Because he admits he doesn’t know any more facts than the rest of us?  Do go on…


“Chizik should not reap the benefits of Newton’s play because the chances are better than worse that someone in the Auburn family gave Cecil Newton what he wanted in order to get Cam to head to the Plains.”


Chizik should not reap the benefits of Newton’s play because the chances are… blah, blah, blah.  Imagine if our court system worked like this.  Forget that whole beyond-a-reasonable-doubt thing. 

“Ya think he did it?  He look guilty to you?  Then convict this here spud right now!”

No thanks.  Like Weinfuss, I think a lot of things.  Unlike Weinfuss — apparently — I realize that I’m occasionally wrong.  I realize that two plus two doesn’t always equal four.

Just a few months ago, I thought Eric Bledsoe’s high school transcript had been tinkered with and that Kentucky was about to lose a bunch of basketball victories.  Many people thought that.  And we were all wrong.

So while I think l’affaire Newton smells to high heaven, I’ll not condemn or convict anyone until I see some facts or hear some confessions.  So far all we’ve got to go on are sources who are connected to one of Auburn’s rivals — a rival that lost out on Newton’s recruitment — and a number of sources who remain nameless.  That’s it.  Lots of smoke.  No fire yet.

When fire is discovered, I’ll be right there to say, “I thought so.”  But until then, I’m reserving judgement.  That’s how I’d want to be treated if I were in Newton’s or Chizik’s shoes.  But I guess I’m along on that one.

“… knowing what I know,” Weinfuss concludes, “(Chizik) doesn’t deserve my vote or anyone else’s.”

Well, if Weinfuss actually knows something, I wish he’d call up the NCAA and let them in on it.  ‘Cause I’m getting awfully tired of writing about the Newton saga.  If Weinfuss can bring it to an end by sharing his vast knowledge, best he just go ahead and do so.

In the immortal words of Judge Smails…



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Rogers In More Hot Water?

State officials in Mississippi want to talk to Kenny Rogers regarding possible violation of the state’s law regulating agents.  But his attorney Doug Zeit told USA Today that might state officials might not get their wish.  In fact, Zeit said he’ll decide whether or not his client will sit down with state agents.

A Secretary of State spokesperson declined comment to The Jackson Clarion-Ledger. 

When all this is said down, I’ve got the feeling a whole lotta people will regret every meeting Cecil Newton.  And Rogers may be at the top of the list.

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Another New Wrinkle Regarding Cecil Newton’s Church, and Why Even Minor Revelations in the Cameron Newton Investigation are Bad News for the Auburn Tigers

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By now, we’ve all seen the message board analysis of the background to the Cameron Newton case, which stops only just short of parroting the conspiracy theory espoused by the Scottish father from “So I Married an Axe Murderer.” Personally, I see no need to go to such great lengths to malign the Auburn Tigers, when the plainly obvious facts suffice so nicely.

Much has been made of the allegation that Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, Inc., the church of which Cecil Newton serves as pastor and chief executive officer, purportedly was having financial difficulties at the time Cam Newton was being recruited by Auburn, Mississippi State, and other suitors. I do not know whether this is true, and I make neither an assertion nor an assumption either way.

What complicates matters even more than they already have been, though, is the fact that Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, Inc., does not appear to be a valid Georgia non-profit entity at the present time.

The church originally was incorporated in 1991, with Cecil Newton as the named incorporator, but the corporation appears to have been administratively dissolved on May 16, 2008, well before the events surrounding Cam Newton’s recruitment are alleged to have occurred.

I don’t want to oversell the importance of the church’s evident dissolution as a corporate entity; under Georgia law, an administratively dissolved non-profit corporation may apply for reinstatement, and, if the application is granted, the law treats the corporation as though it had been in uninterrupted existence the entire time. In fact, it appears that Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, Inc., was dissolved before, in 1993, and reinstated in 2003 as a result of an application for reinstatement filed by Cecil Newton.

In short, this latest twist in a saga that grows more convoluted with each passing day probably means absolutely nothing, but I find it interesting—baffling, really—that, at a time when the church was under fire from city officials and under investigation by local newspapers, no one seems to have bothered to check to see if the church still existed as a legal entity, and, if not, why not. Cecil Newton has submitted bank statements from the church, suggesting that it remains in operation, but at least one report indicates that neighbors say “the church hasn’t been used in months.” The administrative dissolution of Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, Inc., very well may have been due to a simple failure to renew the corporation’s annual registration, but the articles of amendment filed with the Georgia Secretary of State in 2005 indicate that, upon the dissolution of the corporation, the church’s assets were to be distributed for tax-exempt purposes, so it matters whether Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, Inc., has closed its doors or merely needs to file the paperwork to be reinstated.

It is quite standard for a non-profit entity applying for tax-exempt status from the IRS to provide for the distribution of its assets to other tax-exempt entities upon dissolving, so there is nothing the least bit odd about that language. Now that the FBI is involved, though, considerations concerning compliance with the Internal Revenue Code become relevant.

According to the Coweta County real estate records available on-line, Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, Inc., purchased its building in July 2003. (Presumably, that purchase is what prompted the reinstatement of the corporation earlier that year.) If the corporation ceased to exist in 2008, that property should have gone for tax-exempt use to another church or charitable organization. The timelines appearing in media reports seem to indicate that, during much of the time that Holy Zion Center for Deliverance, Inc., purportedly was trying to make repairs to its building, Holy Zion Center for Deliverance, Inc., did not, strictly speaking, exist.

More often than not, corporations are administratively dissolved due to clerical oversights when someone simply forgets to file the proper paperwork with the Secretary of State. There is no reason to believe anything more sinister occurred here, particularly since Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, Inc., apparently went through a similar dissolution with no ill effects upon reinstatement. As Paul Westerdawg noted, though, the only two people you would less rather see in your front yard than an FBI agent are an IRS agent and Jim Cantore. If, as appears to be the case, Cecil Newton’s church was dissolved (even innocently and accidentally) as a non-profit entity, questions could arise concerning the assets of the defunct corporation. The process of providing satisfactory answers to those inquiries will produce further grist for the mill.

Like everyone else who is following this story from the outside, I have no idea who is telling the truth and what, if anything, is being concealed. The Newtons are entitled to the presumption of innocence, both legally and morally, and I do not suppose that the ostensible dissolution of the church resulted from anything more than carelessness.

Nevertheless, there reportedly is an ongoing federal investigation into these matters, which appear to involve a now-nonexistent non-profit corporation continuing to operate as a tax-exempt entity. Even if (as likely is the case) all of this is entirely innocuous, some intrepid IRS agent may ask about the possibility of benefits to private interests with respect to this legally-defunct church.

The more areas into which government agents believe they have cause to poke and prod, the more information they are going to unearth that the NCAA otherwise might not have gotten, and the less of a priority the continued collegiate eligibility of Cameron Newton (who likely is three games away from ending his amateur career, in any case) will be to the quarterback and his father. The more questions are asked by agents in the employ of the federal government, the more the NCAA will begin to look like small potatoes. Even if those federal agents ultimately conclude that everything is on the up and up, their presence on the scene is not good news for Auburn.

Every new wrinkle renders more complex a situation the Tiger faithful have been hoping will end with a simple explanation. The longer this goes on, and the deeper this goes, the worse it will be for the Plainsmen, and it doesn’t look like there will be a cessation of revelations anytime soon.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Newton Saga: Lawyers Speak, No Wire Taps Tying Booster To Player

The attorney who said he represents “the Newton family and particularly Cam Newton” told WSB-TV in Atlanta today that the quarterback did not take any money during his recruitment.

“No money has been offered to Cam,” George Lawson said.  “Cam Newton hasn’t asked for money.  I don’t think there’s any question that Cam Newton knew nothing about any money discussions, if any discussions were had.”

That’s an interesting comment for an attorney who sort of represents Cecil Newton to make.  Note, he did not deny the possibility that discussions might have taken place.  More on this below.

Lawson said that both of Cam’s parents have met with NCAA investigators and “been truthful and candid with the NCAA and will continue to cooperate with the NCAA and will produce and answer any and all questions that the NCAA has for them.”

Lawson also said he knows “nothing” about the FBI’s investigation.  “I don’t even know if the FBI is investigating (Newton’s recruitment).  I’ve had the occasion to see probably the same thing that you saw on ESPN.  That’s all I know about it.”

The Newtons’ attorney also discussed the leak of Cam’s academic records to Thayer Evans of FoxSports.com.  “Cam Newton’s grades and academic standings at the University of Florida are protected matters.  And to the extent that the University of Florida has violated a federal statute, I have some understanding of what the University of Florida’s address is and at some appropriate time they’ll hear from me.”

When asked if there will be legal action against UF — what else would he mean by the above statement? — Lawson said, “I’m not suggesting what it will be, but the University of Florida will hear from me.  If the University of Floirda has disclosed unlawfully Cam’s personal and private records then I will be talking to the University of Florida about that.”

Lawson also said that the reports regarding Newton’s alleged cheating at UF were “not accurate.”  “He’s a very polished, he’s a very smart young man and at this point in his life he’s a very mature young man.  He’s much more mature than most 21-year-olds would be with all that he’s going through in his life.”

He added: “I am one million percent confident that Cam Newton took no money from no one.”

You can read more of the Q&A session with Lawson here.

As for discussions regarding money, the attorney for Kenny Rogers confirmed to The Jackson Clarion-Ledger today the pay-for-play plan for Newton.

“We are unequivocally saying that the entire thing was solicited by Cecil Newton and, unfortunately, (Rogers) stupidly became a rubber hose and passed it along.” Doug Zeit said.  “That’s what (Rogers) did.  (He) never asked for money, other than what Cecil Newton wanted and how he wanted it.”

Yesterday, former MSU player Bill Bell said that he received a text from Rogers outlining a three-tiered payment plan for the Newton family.  Zeit said, “(Rogers) said that’s what (Cecil) Newton wanted me to send and that’s what I sent.”

Zeit also confirmed that three-way phone calls between Rogers, Bell and the elder Newton did take place just as Bell has said.  In his words, there were “not even a handful (of calls)… a couple.”

On another front, those messageboard rumors suggesting Auburn booster and recently-arrested casino-owner Milton McGregor was dragged into the Newton mess through wiretaps are apparently false.  (Shocking.)

According to “multiple sources familiar with the statehouse reports,” The Birmingham News reported today that “wiretaps made as part of the recent federal investigation into vote-buying in the Alabama Legislature contain no conversations that connect Victoryland owner Milton McGregor to quarterback Cam Newton’s recruitment to Auburn.”

TMZ.com reported yesterday that FBI agents had brought up McGregor’s name to someone they interviewed in the Newton case.  McGregor’s attorney denied that his client had had any connections to the Newtons or Cam’s recruitment.


Sidenote — Anybody else as sick of the name “Cam Newton” as I am?

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