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As USC appeal approaches, NCAA says decisions not motivated by money

December 29, 2010 |  3:54 pm

With controversial decisions regarding Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor fresh in the public mind -- and with an appeal hearing by USC less than a month away -- the NCAA on Wednesday issued another statement regarding its decision-making process.

"Several media and others recently concluded that very different situations involving student-athlete eligibility should be considered independent of their unique circumstances or interpreted with a 'one size fits all' approach," the NCAA said.

"In particular, they are comparing recent decisions involving The Ohio State University and Auburn University (and others). Some have even suggested the NCAA plays favorites in these types of situations based in part or in whole on financial considerations.

"Nothing could be farther from the truth."

The NCAA announced last week that Pryor and several teammates who violated preferential-treatment bylaws would be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season but that all of the players would be allowed to participate in the Jan. 4 Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.

The announcement came three weeks after the NCAA determined that Newton was eligible despite the fact that his father broke NCAA rules for his role in a pay-for-play scenario when his son was being recruited from a junior college. Cam Newton later won the Heisman Trophy and will lead Auburn against Oregon in the Bowl Championship Series title game on Jan. 10.

"The notion that the NCAA is selective with its eligibility decisions and rules enforcement is another myth with no basis in fact," the NCAA said in its statement Wednesday. "Money is not a motivator or factor as to why one school would get a particular decision versus another. Any insinuation that revenue from bowl games in particular would influence NCAA decisions is absurd, because schools and conferences receive that revenue, not the NCAA."

USC, which was hit with some of the strongest sanctions in college sports history, is scheduled to appear before the NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee on Jan. 22 in Indianapolis.

-- Gary Klein