The sports world is buzzing about the news that Auburn Quarterback Cam Newton, a Heisman front runner, is being investigated by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits in exchange for going to Auburn. The short version of the story is someone purporting to represent Newton, a shady character by the name of Kenny Rogers, spoke with a representative of Mississippi State about paying $180,000 if they wanted him to come there. And Mississippi State evidently not only said no, but also forwarded the information to the SEC (go figure) which then of course looked at Auburn because that's where he ended up.
Now there are many layers to this story and I'll be honest, I have no idea of Newton or his family did this. I would say that if offered $200,000 many many families would have a hard time saying no. On the other hand I think its patently ridiculous how many so called "journalists" have rushed to judgement with Cam Newton. There has been no ruling from the NCAA but you see some of these folks saying Newton should no longer be in contention for the Heisman and Auburn shouldn't be ranked as high.
I could have sworn I was in America where people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.
But hey, I guess some folks are going to try to make a name for themselves by throwing Newton under the bus. If only for those few assholes I sincerely hope Newton is cleared just so they can have the maximum amount of egg on their sanctimonious faces.
But again I'm not going to argue innocence or guilt in this post. Instead there was something in the story that bothered me and seemed to prejudice people into giving more weight to the allegations. That is that they pointed out some trouble Cam Newton's father was having keeping the church he pastors from being demolished.
Cecil Newton said the family received a letter from the NCAA "about a month ago" asking for financial statements. He said he submitted bank statements and records for the church where he is pastor, Holy Zion Center of Deliverance in Newnan, Ga., along with other records.
The church has been in the news in Coweta County, Ga., often in the past year. According to stories in The Times-Herald newspaper, Cecil Newton's church was in danger of being demolished by order of the Newnan City Council in 2009 for failing to meet the city's building code. One story said Cecil Newton told the council last September the building would be brought to code "inside of six months." After numerous delays, extensions and compromises from the council, renovation work began last spring and The Times-Herald reported last week that the church is in compliance with Newnan's building requirements.
Now if you read that part of the ESPN story you might come away saying "Aha!" because the clear implication is that the Newton's MUST have taken the money to fix and save the church. That would make sense to me if we were talking about some kind of megachurch, but this was really an old parts supply story that was being converted into a church. And I mean with $200,000 and the current real estate market, couldn't Cecil Martin just buy a brand new church outright rather than throwing good money after bad in an older building that was falling apart?
It was those kinds of questions that made me decide to google the church and see what I could find since the ESPN story pointed out that it had been in the news quite a bit over the last year. And while googling I found this article.
The Newnan City Council said Tuesday it is finished granting extensions for a local church to bring its building up to code unless the owner can offer an acceptable, compelling reason why not to proceed with demolition.
"I am done dealing with 115 Temple Ave.," said Mayor Keith Brady.
Holy Zion Center of Deliverance was on the agenda for council to discuss the status of the property and consider granting another extension for work. There have been at least three extensions already granted since the condemnation process was initiated in June 2008. When no one from the church was present at Tuesday's meeting to explain why renovations aren't progressing, Brady asked the city to issue a stop work order.
Brady said he didn't want the owners to invest any more money in the property before council has a chance to discuss how to proceed. The city will also send the property owners notification to appear before council at its next meeting -- particularly if they don't want the property torn down.
That is a story from May.....of THIS YEAR.
Sooooooo lets think through this.
Supposedly Cam Newton was shopped for $180-$200 grand last December. And because he signed with Auburn the thought is they paid the $180-$200 grand to get him. And because his father's church was in need of renovation that's why they wanted the money in the first place.
But at least five months after Newton committed to Auburn his father's church is still about to be demolished?
Did they agree to a lay away plan for the pay off or something?
Or is it more likely that whether they took the money or not, the church wasn't the reason?
I'm gonna go with the latter.
Unfortunately it seems quite a few people are basing their belief that the Newtons are guilty on the information about the church. I guess its kind of like an old Perry Mason episode where the impending church demolition gives them motive. But although they did eventually get the church up to code, its obvious that the problems didn't go away when Newton signed with Auburn.
So to reiterate, I am not arguing that Cam Newton or his father Cecil are innocent. What I'm arguing is that the problems with the church and the fact that its now up to code don't really prove anything either. Actually if there's anything it does prove its that if there was any money that exchanged hands it obviously wasn't used on the church for at least five months. As a matter of fact the church was just about to be put up for demolition AGAIN because the renovations still hadn't taken place. Maybe its just me but I don't think Cecil Newman would have been playing chicken with the city of Newnan if he was walking around with hundreds of thousands of dollars in his back pocket.
One last thing on this. Here is another nugget in that last article.
Bishop Cecil Newton, pastor of the Temple Avenue church, and Melvin Cooper, the general contractor for the project, came before the city and reassured council the church had the money in hand to proceed with the work.
That's a reference to something that happened in September....of 2009.
I can't say whether Cecil Newman was lying over a year ago when he claimed he already had the money for the renovations, but I would assume it took more than a "scouts honor" for the city council to believe him. So if he did in fact have the money in hand for the renovations last year then no matter how many delays they went through or how close the city got to demolishing the church, it would prove that the story of whether Newton got money for going to Auburn or not had nothing to do with that church.
At least for me it does.