Auburn remains mum on Newton's status vs. Georgia

Associated Press
Auburn coach Gene Chizik speaks to reporters following practice about his team's upcoming NCAA college football game against Georgia on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, in Auburn, Ala. All coach Chizik would say Wednesday about Cam Newton is that the star quarterback will start for the second-ranked Tigers against Georgia on Saturday after the latest round of accusations. (AP Photo/Todd J. Van Emst)
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Auburn officials aren't talking about embattled quarterback Cam Newton's status for the second-ranked Tigers' game Saturday with Georgia.

Athletic department spokesman Kirk Sampson said Friday the school had "no comment" when asked about Newton's status. Coach Gene Chizik had said Wednesday the Heisman Trophy front-runner "will be playing Saturday," but hasn't spoken publicly on the issue since.

Newton boarded the team bus Friday evening to head to the hotel in Montgomery, where the Tigers stay the night before home games. Dozens of fans attended the send-off, with one group holding up signs spelling out, "Lean on us Cam (nbr)2."

Two former Mississippi State players — Kenny Rogers and Bill Bell — say Cecil Newton sought money during that school's recruitment of Newton.

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an e-mail Friday to The Associated Press that the governing body doesn't talk about "current, pending or potential investigations" when asked if the NCAA had advised Auburn of eligibility questions involving Newton.

Commissioner Mike Slive and Mississippi State have gone back and forth recently about why it took the school six months to file a detailed report after initially notifying the SEC in January that a request for extra benefits had been made during the recruitment of Cam Newton.

Mississippi State followed up with more information in July. The school said in a statement Wednesday that the delay was because its compliance office was busy with other "time-consuming eligibility issues."

Slive made it clear Friday that the SEC was not the cause of the delay.

"There was timely follow-up from our office between January and July," Slive told The Birmingham News. "As Mississippi State indicated, these requests were not fulfilled. We followed up in a timely way. Given the need for people to have a month or more to do that, we asked again. In six years, we've never had a problem with that."

Mississippi State responded in another statement Friday night from athletic director Scott Stricklin.

"MSU alerted the Southeastern Conference about the offer," the statement said. "MSU did not have any specific incriminating information about any other school, and thus could not provide any.

"As Commissioner Slive mentioned (Friday), the SEC is not an investigative body. MSU has cooperated fully and completely with the NCAA from the time it began asking for our assistance, and looks forward to providing any and all help in this ongoing investigation."

Rogers' attorney, Doug Zeit, told the AP that the NCAA wants to meet with his client, but that the meeting had not taken place. Zeit said Rogers hopes the meeting "will happen sooner rather than later." Zeit said Rogers has not been contacted by the FBI.

Former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond is scheduled to meet with the FBI on Tuesday. Bond told Mississippi State officials in January that he had been approached by a man — identified by ESPN.com as Rogers— who said it would take up to $180,000 to secure Cam Newton's signature.

On a radio show in Dallas on Thursday, Rogers said that Cecil Newton wanted between $100,000 and $180,000 for his son to sign with Mississippi State. Rogers said he, Cecil Newton and two MSU assistants met at a Starkville hotel on Nov. 27, 2009, and that one of the coaches responded, "No, no I don't want to hear that."

Rogers denies he ever spoke with Bond, a statement his attorney reiterated to the AP on Friday. Rogers said Bell was his intermediary with Bond.

Bond told ESPN.com he has phone records that prove the two men spoke.

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AP Sports Writer David Brandt in Jackson, Miss., contributed to this story.

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