AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said a report that Tigers quarterback Cam Newton faced possible expulsion from Florida for academic cheating is "sad" and reiterated that Newton is eligible both academically and athletically.
"These allegations and rumors about Cam Newton are unfortunate and sad because they seem intent on tearing down the reputation of a young man who has done everything we've asked him to do," Jacobs said in a statement Tuesday. "Cam has been and continues to be completely honest with us. Cam is, by all accounts, a great kid."
Foxsports.com reported Monday that Newton was caught cheating three times and was to appear for a hearing in front of Florida's Student Committee during the spring semester of 2009. The website reported that Newton turned in another student's paper with his name on it and handed in another paper that was later found to have been purchased off the Internet.
Newton transferred to Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas, where he played last season.
The Heisman hopeful landed at Blinn after an arrest at Florida in November 2008. Campus police said he stole a $1,700 laptop then threw it out his dormitory window when officers arrived to investigate. The charges were dropped last December when he completed a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders. Newton has said he bought the stolen computer from someone else.
The third-ranked Tigers host Georgia on Saturday and Newton said during his weekly availability Tuesday that's all he is thinking about.
"My sole focus right now is to win this football game coming up on Saturday," Newton said. "That's pretty much it."
He refused to discuss the cheating allegations...
"I'm not going to entertain something that took place not three months, not six months, not a year but two years ago," Newton said. "I'm not going to sit up here and say anything about it, whether I did or did not do it, because I don't want to beat a dead horse talking about it. It's not going to affect me any way, shape or fashion."
Minutes before Newton addressed the media, an emotional Gene Chizik called the academic allegations "garbage."
"Cam Newton is one of the guys on our football team that has not only excelled as a tremendous athlete," the Auburn coach said. "... I'm wasting my time addressing allegations that blow my mind that they're even out there, because there's federal privacy laws that dictate that these things don't get out in public.
"I'm standing up here on very important week trying to defend something that's garbage."
Chizik described Newton as a "great human being that comes from a great family" and addressed his quarterback's Heisman credentials.
"He's one of the leaders in the Heisman race because he deserves it. That's fact," Chizik said.
Newton's father, Cecil, declined comment on the academic allegations when reached by Associated Press on Tuesday, saying his "voice will be presented either through me or somebody else at a later time."
Cecil Newton did talk about the allegations earlier Tuesday on Paul Finebaum's syndicated sports talk radio show in Alabama.
"This is a character assassination attempt," he said on the show. "Who is going to profit and why are they are going to profit? We sure don't.
"I think there's a group of people who have a hidden agenda and don't want to see him as a Heisman nominee, let alone winner."
In Gainesville, Florida coach Urban Meyer said in a statement that neither he nor anyone on his staff leaked any information Newton's academic record, calling it a "ridiculous claim."
Meyer said, "For anyone to think that I or anyone on our staff may have leaked information about private student records to the media doesn't know us very well. It's a ridiculous claim and simply not true."
Jacobs said he couldn't speak about Newton's academic records because that would violate federal privacy laws.
"We will not go down that path or stoop to that level as others have apparently done," he said. "We will, however, emphatically say that Cam is eligible to play football at Auburn University both academically and athletically.
"I am proud of this young man and the progress he has made to be a better football player and a better man. We are truly blessed that Cam is a part of the Auburn family, and we support him 100 percent."
AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Gainesville, Fla., contributed to this report.