The NCAA believes Johnny Manziel may have profited from his talent, according to an ESPN report. Manziel is alleged to have signed “hundreds” of items for a five-figure fee while attending the BCS Title Game in Miami. An “overwhelming” amount of Manziel autographs reportedly hit the market after the game.
Three sources said Manziel signed photographs, footballs, mini football helmets and other items at the request of an autograph broker named Drew Tieman. Two sources, who are aware of the signing arrangement, told “Outside the Lines” that Tieman approached Manziel on Jan. 6 when he landed at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to attend the game between Alabama and Notre Dame the next day.
After that meeting, three sources said, Manziel, accompanied by his friend and personal assistant Nathan Fitch, visited Tieman’s residence and signed hundreds of items in the main room of the apartment despite the fact that there were many people in the room. Before Manziel left South Florida, after taking in the title game, he signed hundreds of autographs more, one source said.
First, NCAA athletic departments preventing athletes from profiting from their own likenesses, to allow themselves to do so tax-free and at minimal cost, is absurd and immoral. There should be nothing wrong with this. Whether he accepted a cash payment should be a matter for the IRS, not the NCAA. Five figures? His Heisman run generated an extra $37 million for Texas A&M, just in media exposure.
What does this mean for Manziel and Texas A&M? It’s not clear yet. The NCAA needs proof, not that he signed the items but that he accepted payment. He is required to turn over his bank records, though undoubtedly he would have known that before entering the alleged agreement. NCAA enforcement does not have a stellar track record with this sort of thing. Unless either party provides proof, it may be a dead end.
If they can find proof, Manziel would be ineligible. The question would then become whether he is suspended and for how long (whether he lied to the NCAA being a major factor). Two games would see him back for Alabama. Four or six games, a la A.J. Green, would be more of a problem.
This should not affect Texas A&M, beyond him playing or not playing. The alleged incident would have occurred after their bowl game. Ohio State and Jim Tressel faced additional punishment, in a similar situation, for knowing and lying about it to the NCAA.
[Photo via Getty]