LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Heisman Trophy favorite Cam Newton said Thursday that he "did no wrong" during the recruiting process that led to him signing with Auburn.
Speaking hours before the College Football Award Show broadcast by ESPN, Newton told the network Thursday that he did "it the right way" and followed his heart in signing with the Tigers instead of Mississippi State.
"I'm a person that did no wrong," Newton said. "I did it the right way."
He had not spoken publicly about the failed pay-for-play scheme involving his father, Cecil, and former Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers while the star quarterback was being recruited by the Bulldogs. The NCAA ruled that Newton was unaware of the payment scheme.
After the ruling, George Lawson, the Newton family attorney, said that Cecil Newton cooperated with the NCAA.
"Cam's father participated in the investigation truthfully and honestly in terms of what he knew and what he didn't know, regardless of the consequences," Lawson told WSB-TV in Atlanta.
Newton told ESPN he hadn't directly asked his father what transpired between him and Mississippi State, but "at the end of the day I can look him in the eye and know he has my best interests at heart."
Newton said it wasn't for him to say if his father had done anything wrong, but he knows his father is there for him.
"My love for him is unconditional," Cam Newton said. "This type of situation can split a family but it makes us stronger."
Cecil Newton, whose access to Auburn athletics has been limited by the university in conjunction with the NCAA findings, said Thursday he will not attend the Heisman ceremony.
In a statement through the family's Atlanta-based attorney he said his presence might "rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment."
Cecil Newton said in the statement released by George Lawson that he has made an "exhausting attempt to be a good husband, father and generally a good person of integrity." He added that "the past 60 days have caused all that my family worked to accomplish to come into question."
Newton is at Disney World, where he was a finalist for the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell awards. The O'Brien is presented annually to the nation's best quarterback, and the Maxwell to the best all-around player. His next stop will be New York, where he's the favorite to win the Heisman on Saturday.