After all the talk about an investigation of Johnny Manziel for violating rules by getting paid for his autograph, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) levied a half-game suspension on him Aug. 25.
The 2012 Heisman Trophy holder will be held out for the first half of Texas A&M’s season opener against Rice University on Aug. 31 for a secondary violation of rules barring student athletes from participating in the production of items to be sold to fans.
Manziel and NCAA investigators spent over six hours talking on Aug. 25. However, they did not find any evidence supporting allegations that Manziel was paid for signing autographs at several locations, including in South Florida around the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship game. The NCAA's questioning was focused on Manziel's financial records.
A report from ESPN said that multiple autograph dealers claimed that Manziel accepted payment to sign more than 4,000 items, including footballs and photographs, at events in Connecticut, Florida and Texas.
No evidence was found to support he was paid for his autograph. Manziel’s suspension came for what an NCAA official said is a “secondary violation” of NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11:
Title: 18.104.22.168 – Advertisements and Promotions After Becoming a Student-Athlete.
After becoming a student-athlete, an individual shall not be eligible for participation in intercollegiate athletics if the individual:
(a) Accepts any remuneration for or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind; or
(b) Receives remuneration for endorsing a commercial product or service through the individual's use of such product or service.
“Student-athletes are often asked for autographs from fans, but unfortunately, some individuals' sole motivation in seeking an autograph is for resale," said NCAA Vice President of Academic and Membership Affairs Kevin Lennon. "It is important that schools are cognizant and educate student-athletes about situations in which there is a strong likelihood that the autograph seeker plans to resell the items.”
Texas A&M has not announced whether Matt Joeckel or Kenny Hill will start at the QB position for the season opener.