Washington—As allegations of academic fraud and other NCAA rules violations swirl around Cam Newton, the standout quarterback at No. 2 Auburn, the NCAA has remained tight-lipped about whether he will remain eligible this season. The media frenzy has been intense, and speculation about the Heisman front-runner’s eligibility has been rampant.
But the NCAA’s new president, Mark Emmert, said during a taping of a television program here on Friday that the association has an obligation to move more slowly and deliberately in such a case, regardless of the hype and pressure to weigh in.
“You’ve got to get the facts right,” Emmert said during an interview with Graham Spanier, the president of Penn State University. “The burden of proof is higher than what it is for somebody who’s writing in a blog.”
Emmert hinted at a new direction for the NCAA’s enforcement system during the hour-long segment of Expert Opinion, Spanier’s talk show, which is scheduled to air on the Big Ten Network starting Monday. He said he wants the NCAA’s enforcement staff to ease up on its scrutiny of minor rules violations stemming from “that very thick rulebook” and focus instead on the “big issues.”
But in dealing with high-profile cases like Newton’s, he said, the NCAA has to resist the impulse to act hastily. “You’re dealing with young people’s careers and education. You’re dealing with institutional reputations. You’re dealing with a process that is, by its very nature, complicated,” he said. “We have to get it right.”