It had been a whole four days since anything related to the NCAA investigation of Johnny Manziel came up, so we were probably due.
ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported Monday night that the Heisman Trophy winner is connected to another pair of autograph sessions: one in South Florida after the BCS championship in January, and another one later that month in Houston. In all, OTL claims Manziel did six signings for three brokers in three states in less than a month, signing his name to various pieces of memorabilia a whopping 4,400 times.
Like all previous reports, there is no evidence of money being exchanged between Manziel and a broker. In fact, OTL’s latest piece never mentions Manziel receiving payments for the two newly reported sessions, in which he allegedly signed around 1,500 pieces of memorabilia per session.
But while trying to pin down a money trail remains an important part of investigating Manziel, it’s possible the redshirt sophomore could face consequences for violating another NCAA bylaw: 126.96.36.199, which requires a student-athlete to make every effort to stop the sale of products featuring his or her likeness. It may be a laughable rule, but it’s a rule nonetheless. Signing over 4,000 autographs in a month (or a even a modest 1,500 autographs) for multiple brokers (allegedly) would imply Manziel had absolutely no intention of preventing the sale of those items.
Manziel’s lawyers, as well as Texas A&M’s legal counsel, however, have a strong interest in doing so. OTL reports that multiple autographed Manziel items on eBay have been taken down via prompts from Manziel’s representation.
Even other programs not affected by the Manziel story are following suit. Last week, USC sent out a release stating it had sent a cease and desist letter for an autograph of wide receiver Marqise Lee that was for sale. Similarly, Ohio State and South Carolina announced that they had found no wrongdoing in the sale of autographs from Braxton Miller and Jadeveon Clowney, respectively.
Whether or not the NCAA finds any wrongdoing in Manziel’s case remains to be seen. There are other potential avenues by which the NCAA could find Manziel guilty of violating bylaws. For example, if Manziel’s friend and personal assistant did in fact negotiate, or attempted to negotiate, a signing deal for Manziel on his behalf, he could be considered an agent under the Cam Newton rule.
With multiple angles to the story, it’s quite possible an investigation of Manziel extends past preseason camp.