Friday, October 14, 2011

Clean Bill Of Health

Kevin Scarbinsky, in the Birmingham News:

Instead of being swayed by public misinformation, the NCAA did what the NCAA is supposed to do. It assigned to the Newton case a bulldog of a lead investigator, Jackie Thurnes, whose previous work included the Derrick Rose-Memphis basketball case that cost the Tigers 38 victories and a national runner-up finish, and turned her loose.

Consider a list of states where the NCAA put actual boots on the ground to sniff around on Newton, the HBO 4 and beyond: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Arkansas.

Now contemplate the multiple fronts covered by a wide-ranging investigation that, according to Thurnes' "It's over" letter to Auburn AD Jay Jacobs, "was not limited to" Newton and the HBO 4.

According to people who were interviewed by the NCAA, the probe looked into everything from the repairs that were done on Cecil Newton's church to the suits that Cam Newton wore in New York during Heisman week. They asked questions about everyone from an alleged street agent in Louisiana to an alleged street agent in Arkansas.

They combed through bank, tax and phone records of Auburn players, coaches, officials and trustees. They requested and were provided some records that went back almost two years.

Did I say requested? Demanded is more like it. The NCAA made it clear that, if those records weren't turned over, the NCAA would consider that suspicious and might find Auburn guilty of failure to cooperate.

What did the NCAA find after 13 months of that kind of determined digging? Not enough to substantiate any of the potential violations it examined. Auburn's unofficial probation ended, not only without sanctions, but without a single formal charge brought against the school.

It's extraordinary for the NCAA not to find something somewhere to charge a school with when it invests this kind of time and money. People who've been involved in infractions cases will tell you. When the enforcement staff turns over this many rocks, it expects to find some serious dirt.

Auburn expected to come out clean, but it didn't expect to get the detailed letter it received that was signed by Thurnes. There probably isn't a more rare and valuable document in the possession of any athletic department in the country today.
Read the whole thing.

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