For all of his off-season antics, Texas A quarterback John Manziel’s maturity was questioned, but not his standing as a college football player.
That may change if an NCAA investigation into the possibility of Manziel receiving money for signing autographs proves true.
ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” quoting unnamed sources,reported Sunday that the NCAA is investigating
whether Manziel was paid for signing photos and other sports memorabilia during a trip to Miami in conjunction with the BCS national championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame.
A day before the game, Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner who led the Aggies to an 11-2 record last season, was one of several major award winners who were brought to the title game, and among other activities, met with reporters at a news conference.
According to the ESPN report, Manziel was approached by an autograph broker named Drew Tieman at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport upon arriving in the area. Manizel is said to have signed hundreds of items at Tieman’s residence that day.
The ESPN story reported Manziel received “a five-figure flat fee” for his signatures during the trip but did not say how or when.
If true, Manziel could be in violation of the NCAA rule that prohibit athletes from accepting money “for promoting or advertising the commercial sale of a product or service.”
A statement from Texas A’s Jason Cook cited the school’s longstanding policy not to respond to questions concerning specific athletes.
A possible NCAA penalty for such a violation could be a suspension for multiple games. In 2011, several Ohio State players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, were suspended for five games after it was discovered they sold memorabilia.
Ohio State was put on probation and couldn’t play in a bowl game in 2012 despite a 12-0 record last season, but that was because the NCAA deemed the school and then-coach Jim Tressel had knowledge of the violations and failed to take action. Tressel resigned before the 2011 season.