The NCAA is investigating Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner, for accepting “a five-figure flat fee” for signing photos and memorabilia, ESPN reported Sunday.
The network cited anonymous sources who witnessed the January 2013 signings that took place in South Florida but did not see the cash exchange. It also noted that online sales of signed Manziel photos show a lot of 999 sequentially numbered items. Industry insiders said that is a sign they were done in large bunches, and not just fans reselling items they coincidentally had the redshirt sophomore quarterback autograph.
The investigation began in June and whether the NCAA can verify the charge remains to be seen. Unnamed sources rarely cooperate with NCAA investigators, although the Association would have the ability to review all of Manziel’s bank records where, even for a person from a family of means, a large sum of money (if deposited in a bank account) might stick out.
Based on past case precedent – which, when dealing with the inconsistent NCAA, could mean nothing – Manziel could be facing a five-game suspension if found guilty. That was the penalty given to a number of Ohio State players who exchanged memorabilia for tattoos and other gifts under the same NCAA rule in 2011.
Manziel’s Aggies host No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 14, the third game of their season. It is the single-most anticipated contest of the college football season and perhaps the biggest in school history.
Johnny Manziel is alleged to have received a “five-figure” fee to sign autographs. (AP)Unlike Ohio State, the Texas A&M program isn’t under any threat of sanction unless it is determined a coach or administrator at the school knew of the alleged deal. Former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel did know of his players dealing memorabilia and (perhaps opposed to the rule) chose to play them for an entire season anyway. That cost him his job and the Buckeyes a bowl game following the 2012 season.