Word came out late last night that according to a Foxsports.com report, Auburn quarterback (and Heisman frontrunner) Cam Newton had been involved in multiple academic incidents at Florida, and that he was facing expulsion if he had returned for the spring semester. Damning stuff, to be sure, but curious in its details. Why was that information coming out now, years after the fact and to no effect on Newton's eligibility? Why did the reporter, Thayer Evans, only have one source cited in his report? What was up with all of this, exactly?
One fact that was generally taken for granted, though, was that Evans' report was more or less accurate. The allegations were specific and of such little immediate consequence that it made no sense for Evans' source to make them up. And yet, if the story's accurate, what's up with this report from AuburnSports.com that Newton, in fact, never faced the Florida Student Conduct Committee?
Two independent sources with detailed knowledge of the UF academic discipline system during the period in question have disputed the Evans story. According to the sources, no allegations of academic impropriety regarding Cam Newton were sent to the Florida Student Conduct Committee at any time either during or after Newton's time at UF.
"Nothing was reported, officially or unofficially" says one source, who did not wish to be identified. "The formal process is for allegations to go through the Student Conduct Committee. If [any allegations against Newton] didn't follow that process, then they didn't follow the rules."
Now, it's important to realize that just because the allegations never made it to the committee doesn't necessarily mean they didn't happen at all, just that they never made it to that step, for whatever reason. But if they didn't, that's a pretty big deal all the same. It certainly undercuts the idea that Newton was on the brink of expulsion -- AuburnSports.com's sources indicated that nobody facing the type of allegations Newton reportedly faced ever got expelled in the 2-3 years that source was at the department.
At any rate, Auburn fans should breathe easy tonight. Evans' report is at best debatable and at worst lousy, and it shouldn't have any effect on Newton's eligibility, focus, or Heisman candidacy. Sure, the other investigation is still ongoing, but the NCAA hasn't even seen fit to investigate Auburn on that front yet. Things just might be okay, Tiger fans.
One last thing worth pointing out, however, is that the source of these leaks doesn't necessarily have to be someone who's at Florida right now, but someone who was at Florida while Cam Newton was there. Someone with intimate knowledge of Newton's athletic and academic situation. And someone with a vendetta against Newton for whatever reason. Let's see, who could possibly fit that bill?