CNNSI is now reporting that the father of Auburn superstar Cam Newton was set to receive a payment plan in exchange for his son playing football for Mississippi State University. A booster for Mississippi State by the name of Bill Bell told ESPN.com that the payment plan was sent to him via text message from a man claiming to represent Cecil Newton, Cam's father.
Kenny Rogers, a former player for Mississippi State allegedly sent the text message, giving Bell the details of how Cam and his father wanted to be paid. They were to make a payment of $80,000 on the day of signing, $50,000 30 days after that, and another $50,000 30 days later.
Bell claims that Cecil was on a three way call with he and Rogers to discuss how the money would be transferred. He says that Cecil never asked for money directly. While the reports don't make any claims regarding the nature of Cecil's interaction with the others, they don't mention him objecting to conversations about giving him money.
I look forward to the day that multi-million dollar players like Cam Newton can have the same rights to compensation as the rest of America without having to do things under the table. The Cloak-and-Dagger nature of these financial transactions reminds us of slavery, sweat shops or prison, where it is also illegal for men and women to be fairly compensated for their hard work. I watched a basketball game the other day between two Division 1 schools. I noticed that every single player on the court was African American, with none of them being compensated with anything other than a scholarship, even though they were the ones entertaining the crowd. The crowd was predominantly white, since the average income level of members of the black community precludes our ability to afford tickets to watch our sons and daughters compete in sporting events. Also, the coaches were both white, with each of them earning salaries of at least a million dollars per year as a result of the labor of the athletes.
While one can't argue that there is deliberate racism in the scenario I've just described, we cannot deny the impact that historical racism, slavery and Jim Crow has had on creating the racially-segregated landscape of collegiate athletics. While those who benefit from the system can't be called patently racist, we must acknowledge that a person's decision to perpetuate and contribute to a system built on a foundation of racial oppression is an act by those who are choosing to remain inadvertently ignorant and socially destructive.
I presume that since Cam Newton chose to attend Auburn University, his school may have possibly been the highest bidder in the Cam Newton Sweepstakes. If Cam got money for his brilliant play on the field, then I congratulate him. There is no justice in supporting an unjust system, so the NCAA must be confronted.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.