A lot of people were surprised by the NCAA's decision to reinstate Auburn quarterback Cam Newton without penalty after a pay-for-play scheme involving his father Cecil, but few were as surprised as USC athletic director Pat Haden.
Haden took over a program in August that was handed some of the harshest NCAA sanctions in history after the parents of Reggie Bush were ruled to have accepted extra benefits from agents and would-be sports marketers.
"In the Reggie Bush case, when the parent [did] something inappropriate the kid and the school suffered," Haden told Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.
He added: "I was always told the parent is the child. That's what we've been telling our kids. If the parent does something inappropriate the child suffers the consequences."
USC argued that it was unaware of any improprieties involving Bush's parents because they lived near San Diego, but the NCAA still put the hammer down on the Trojans.
Haden wasn't the only person in Southern California questioning the NCAA ruling on Newton. Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register wrote that "what Cecil Newton did certainly is wrong, way, way wrong, and by not bringing any actual justice, the NCAA is only encouraging parents, friends and 'handlers' of future stars to conduct their business in a similar manner.
"Beyond that, how could the NCAA wrap up this investigation in a relative eye blink, when it took the same organization years to sort through the Bush mess?"
Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News had a different view. He wrote: "If the NCAA found that Cecil Newton or [Kenny] Rogers got paid by anyone on his behalf, do you think Cam Newton would've been declared ineligible but reinstated almost immediately without conditions?
"Of course not. The NCAA can't sit a player based on suspicion, and a school shouldn't. Based on the evidence, Auburn and the NCAA got this one right."
Ron Morris of the Columbia State wrote that the Newton case could help the NCAA realize that its rules are outdated:
"Shouldn’t Newton be allowed to pocket at least a portion of the revenue he has created for the Auburn athletics department? Newton has helped fatten the wallet of Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who stands to earn $1.5 million in bonuses if the Tigers roll to the national title. That is on top of Chizik’s $2.1 million annual salary.
"You cannot walk anywhere in Auburn, Ala., without seeing Newton’s No. 2 jersey, yet the quarterback is not seeing one dime of the revenue generated from the jerseys sale.
"On top of that, Newton looks like a NASCAR car on the football field, a human billboard. Darren Rovell, a CNBC sports business reporter, counted 17 Under Armour logos on Newton during one game, according to the Birmingham News."
Thanks to Image of Sport.