In once again confirming that it’s decisions focus on public opinion first then right and wrong second, NCAA President Mark Emmert confirmed to reporters that he has been concerned by the backlash around the Cam Newton case:
I was not surprised by the volume or the vitriolic nature [of the response], but had we made a different decision, I do think it would have been worse
The key issue Emmert focused on was it being unclear that Cam Newton knew anything about his fathers actions and concerns over the precedent that punishing a student-athlete for the actions of a ‘representative’ would set. Emmert said he foresees new legislation being needed to address that questions:
Who is an agent and who is a third party and how do you define that? Is it a registered agent? A financial adviser? A counselor, an uncle, an AAU coach? Who is representing you? The reason the backlash didn’t surprise me is that the face of the case seemed straight forward but we had to deal with the reality of the facts that were known.
While the ‘representative’ concern does seem valid no clear connection to the Newton case is evident. The party in question was Cam Newton’s father and Newton is not known to be estranged from his father so there is no reason to think that his father didn’t represent him, would not have influence on him, or that Newton could not have been reasonably expected to know what his father was doing. Emmert continues to hide behind ‘the rules that exist today’ as justification for taking no action in this case but if the NCAA to be taken seriously as a governing body he’ll need to stop making excuses after decisions that focus on the letter of the law and start enforcing the spirit of the law.