The rumors surrounding Heisman Trophy front-runner and Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton continue to swirl and they are beginning to call the star’s past into question.
The latest story from FoxSports.com says Newton had three separate instances of academic cheating while at Florida and potentially faced expulsion from the university.
Newton has dazzled the college football landscape throughout the year at Auburn University and is likely to be the Heisman winner if he keeps up the torrid pace at which he’s playing. But, the newest allegations go back to when he was attending the University of Florida in 2007 & 2008.
Newton reportedly first violated Florida’s student honor code when he allegedly cheated in a class during his freshman year. FoxSports said Newton was later arrested for allegedly stealing a laptop from a fellow UF student’s dorm room.
The final alleged incident happened when Newton allegedly violated the honor code by putting his name on another student’s paper and turning it in.
Newton was reportedly caught after the teacher asked the real author why he had not turned in his work and it was discovered Newton reportedly put his name on someone else’s work.
FoxSports.com said Newton turned in a second paper to the teacher, but the second paper was bought off the Internet. According to the report, Newton was set to face the Florida Student Conduct Committee in 2009, but transferred to tiny Blinn College after his arrest.
Tuesday, Auburn’s athletic director Jay Jacobs said Newton is eligible both academically and athletically.
“These allegations and rumors about Cam Newton are unfortunate and sad because they seem intent on tearing down the reputation of a young man who has done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Jacobs said in a statement Tuesday. “Cam has been and continues to be completely honest with us. Cam is, by all accounts, a great kid.”
Newton’s father, Cecil, called the allegations a “character assassination attempt.”
“I think there’s a group of people who have a hidden agenda and don’t want to see him as a Heisman nominee, let alone winner,” Cecil Newton said.
University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer is said to have a more than casual friendship with the FoxSports reporter who wrote the single-sourced story, according to collegefootballtalk.com. But Meyer vehemently denied he was the source of the story.
“Our entire focus right now is on preparing for our biggest game of the year against South Carolina,” Meyer said. “For anyone to think that I or anyone on our staff may have leaked information about private student records to the media doesn’t know us very well. It’s a ridiculous claim and simply not true.”
Newton and his father have said in the past that Cam transferred because he was going to be a back-up when former UF quarterback Tim Tebow returned for his senior year in 2009.
But, FoxSports said Cam Newton wasn’t enrolled at UF when he made the decision to transfer.
For Newton, it’s the second time in as many weeks that he’s had to fight off allegations of impropriety. Last week, ESPN.com reported a man named Kenny Rogers told Mississippi State University that it would take $180,000 to get Newton to come to school at MSU. ESPN said Rogers told others that other schools had offered him $200,000 to get Newton to their school.
Rogers and the Newton family denied the report, but the NCAA is investigating the story.
Newton has the Auburn Tigers at 10-0 for the season heading into their next game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Auburn is number 2 in the Bowl Championship Series standings behind Newton’s 1,890 yards and 19 touchdowns passing, and 1,146 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing.
The allegations also tend to further tarnish the legacy of University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer. The two-time National Championship winning coach has been battling a growing problem at his school of players breaking the law. As of earlier this season, a player was getting arrested for every two games UF played.
Meyer has complete job security, but Newton’s legacy could go either way. He could fight off the charges and win the Heisman Trophy and lead Auburn to a battle against Oregon in the BCS title game; or, the Heisman Trust could be so nervous after the Reggie Bush cheating scandal that they keep voters away from Newton to insure the 2010 winner won’t tarnish the trophy like Bush did.