The NCAA enforcement staff informed Auburn University that it did not find any major rules-violations in the institution’s signing of then-quarterback Cam Newton. The enforcement staff stated it has concluded the investigation into the allegation. Further, the enforcement staff informed Auburn it completed investigation into allegations by four former student-athletes, which were made on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, that the institution provided them with extra-benefits. The staff reported no rules-violations were determined after the inquiry. The NCAA issued a statement on October 12, 2011, explaining the staff decided to closed the inquiry because the evidence collected did not meet the enforcement staff’s “burden of proof”:
After conducting more than 80 interviews, the NCAA has concluded its investigation into Auburn University. The NCAA enforcement staff is committed to a fair and thorough investigative process. As such, any allegations of major rules violations must meet a burden of proof, which is a higher standard than rampant public speculation online and in the media. The allegations must be based on credible and persuasive information and includes a good-faith belief that the Committee on Infractions could make a finding. As with any case, should the enforcement staff become aware of additional credible information, it will review the information to determine whether further investigation is warranted.
Newton and his father, Cecil, were being investigated for a pay-for-play scheme. Several sources claimed Newton and his father were implicated in several illicit activities. For example, an Alabama sports talk radio show reported “Scott Moore, an Alabama fan and a college football speaker [said] he heard tapes of Cecil Newton selling his son’s services while Cam was in the room. He states Tennessee offered Cecil Newton $200,000 for Cam Newton to play in Knoxville, and that Mississippi State was getting a discounted rate.” However, according to Barrett Sallee of CollegeFootballNews.com, “Moore contradicted himself regarding the amount supposedly offered by Tennessee” because in an earlier interview he “stated that Tennessee offered $150,000 for Newton’s services and not $200,000”. The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm predicted the Auburn enforcement case will continue to generate interesting stories and angles. The school successfully emerged from its NCAA enforcement investigation without the discovery of unforeseen evidence—for example, USC and Reggie Bush’s defenses were diminished when Lloyd Lake decided to talk to the NCAA (as well as turn over secretly-made audio tapes of phone conversations between himself and Reggie Bush’ stepfather).