Auburn AD: Confident in Newton case

By: AP
By: AP

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said he
has no reservations about erecting a statue for Cam Newton while an
NCAA investigation continues and expressed confidence that Auburn
will ultimately be cleared of any wrongdoing.

Jacobs points to comments from NCAA President Mark Emmert, who
said "there was no evidence that money had changed hands and there was no evidence that Auburn University had anything to do with
it."

"Out of respect for the NCAA process, technically it's still an
open issue," Jacobs said. "But when Dr. Emmert, the president of
the NCAA, comes out in February that he's found no wrongdoing on
Auburn's part, I'm not sure how you can be any more confident than
that.

"And no circumstances have changed since then."

If the Newton saga hasn't been officially closed, Jacobs at
least takes that statement as indicative of a happy ending.

The NCAA cleared the Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 NFL draft
pick to play for the Tigers in the Southeastern Conference and
national championship games -- when Auburn briefly declared him
ineligible -- after finding that Newton's father, Cecil, had
solicited money from Mississippi State during the recruiting
process.

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said Wednesday that Emmert's
comments were only related to the reinstatement decision. She said
that a school is notified when an investigation is closed.

Jacobs spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday about a wide range
of issues for an athletic program that won a national championship
in football in January while dealing with the NCAA investigation.

He also said Auburn is "pretty close" to a new deal with
football coach Gene Chizik that Jacobs said will be competitive
with other prominent Southeastern Conference coaches as Alabama's Nick Saban ($4.7 million annually) and LSU's Les Miles ($3.75 million).

Auburn will put up statues of its Heisman winners Bo Jackson,
Pat Sullivan and Newton -- who was drafted No. 1 by the Carolina
Panthers -- during the upcoming school year. The monument to Newton did raise questions pending closure by the NCAA in the case.

"Typically, they don't say there's a closed issue because they
never know what tomorrow holds," he said. "Any circumstance can
change."

And other issues can surface.

Jacobs said Birmingham attorney William King is "still looking
into" a March report by HBO that included four former Auburn
football players alleging that they received cash payments during
their college careers. Jacobs declined to comment when asked if
King had been allowed to sit in with any of the players during NCAA
interviews.

Asked for his take on the report, he said: "My only thought was
that we want to get to the bottom of it and find the truth out.

"It all surprised me. I think it was a surprise to everybody
that watched it."

The spotlight that descended on the Tigers during and after
producing its first football national title since 1957 hardly
illuminated only the wins. Jacobs dismisses some of that as success
leading to "some scrutiny and questions."

"For the Auburn family, I don't think it's taken any joy out of
what's been accomplished."

Jacobs insists that he's not worried about any hit that Auburn's
reputation might have taken outside the familial unit with Newton
and the group nicknamed the HBO Four -- Raven Gray, Stanley
McClover, Chaz Ramsey and Troy Reddick.

"I think the only people that worry about those things are
maybe people that aren't doing it right," Jacobs said.

Beyond those issues, Auburn is set to reward Chizik for leading
the Tigers to a 14-0 season and a win over Oregon in the BCS
championship game in just his second season.

Chizik added $1.3 million in bonuses last year to his $2.1
million salary.

"We're going to certainly give him a nice raise," Jacobs said.
"The way we build our contracts is with a lot of incentives, and
we'll do some of that as well. I won't talk numbers specifically
but we'll put him up there where he can compete with the base
salary as well. But we'll also probably do more than anybody else,
like we've done with prior contracts, in incentives."

Jacobs said he raised the issue of a new deal with Chizik, not
the other way around.

The coach does not have an agent, but is working with Birmingham
attorney Russ Campbell on the deal.

"When it comes to money and stuff like that, it's really not a
priority with Gene," Jacobs said. "He gave part of his original
salary to be able to have a better salary to the assistant coaches
when we hired him. I know that we're about to finish something up
pretty soon. But I wouldn't read anything into why it hasn't
happened sooner, other than just it's really not a priority for
him."

Jacobs also addressed several other issues, including:
-- Basketball coach Tony Barbee's contract. Barbee still hasn't
signed his six-year, $9 million contract since his hiring in March
2010. "Once basketball season started, he said, 'Let's just put
this on hold,"' Jacobs said. "There was a few things in the
contract that he wanted us to look at. We looked at those. There
were about three or four things, we eliminated three of them and
made an adjustment on one. I think that sometime in the near future
we'll have a contract on him. It's back with the attorneys now. He
and I have in principle agreed upon everything."
-- Secondary NCAA violations. Jacobs said Auburn reported
secondary violations and self-imposed sanctions stemming from the
football coaches' Tiger Prowls -- visits to high schools around the
state in limos or a bus in 2009 and 2010. The NCAA passed a rule
allowing a university to send only two coaches to a high school on
the same day during an evaluation period.
"We see them as secondary violations and the SEC saw them as
secondary violations," said Jacobs, who declined to specify the
self-imposed penalties until the NCAA announces its decision.
-- Expansion of Jordan-Hare Stadium. Jacobs said expansion of the
stadium is "not on the board right now." Auburn commissioned
plans that would include future expansion and other upgrades -- just
in case.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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