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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — The Auburn Tigers found themselves defending quarterback Cam Newton for the second time in five days, this time adamantly sticking up for the Heisman hopeful in the wake of allegations of academic cheating when he was at Florida.
More accusations surfaced Tuesday night when ESPN reported on its website that Newton and his father each had a phone conversation with a Mississippi State recruiter that acknowledged a pay-for-play arrangement for the prized recruit.
Hours before ESPN posted the story, Tigers coach Gene Chizik dismissed the academic cheating report as "pure garbage" in an emotional 4-minute, 25-second rant.
"I'm standing up here on a very important week trying to defend something that's garbage," Chizik said. The second-ranked Tigers face rival Georgia on Saturday, and that's where Newton insists his focus lies.
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 facing possible expulsion during the spring semester of 2009.
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