AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — All Auburn coach Gene Chizik would say Wednesday about Cam Newton is that the star quarterback will start for the second-ranked Tigers against Georgia on Saturday after the latest round of accusations. Newton’s friend Joe Haden and brother, meanwhile, rose to his defense.

Chizik declined to answer questions about an ESPN report that Newton told a Mississippi State recruiter that his father wanted him to go to Auburn because “the money was too much.”

Citing unidentified sources, ESPN reported late Tuesday that Newton and his father, Cecil, each had a phone conversation with a Mississippi State recruiter and acknowledged a pay-for-play arrangement. According to the report, one of the recruiters said Cecil Newton told him it would take “more than a scholarship” for his son to attend Mississippi State.

In a statement, Mississippi State’s athletic department said Wednesday that it first contacted the Southeastern Conference regarding “an issue relating to its recruitment of Cam Newton.” The statement said the SEC asked for specific information including interviews with university staffers. Mississippi State didn’t provide more information until July, citing “time-consuming eligibility issues” related to other sports, presumably those involving basketball players Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost.

The statement said Mississippi State has “cooperated fully” with NCAA investigators.

Chizik offered a passionate defense of Newton on Tuesday, calling an earlier report about academic cheating accusations when Newton was at Florida “pure garbage.” But he would only field questions related to Saturday’s game with Georgia in Wednesday’s Southeastern Conference media teleconference.

Chizik was expected to speak to reporters after practice as part of his normal schedule.

Newton’s older brother, Cecil Jr., posted on Facebook that the accusations are false and “a tool for haters.”

“With all of the negative publicity and false accusations facing cam, it’s nothing more than a tool for haters to use against cam to keep him from being successful,” wrote Cecil Jr., who was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars during training camp this year.

“This is just the long bumpy road that leads to an extremely successful season.. WAR EAGLE!!!!” he posted.

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