On the eve of Texas A&M’s fall camp, ESPN is reporting that the NCAA is looking into whether Johnny Manziel received money in exchange for autographing memorabilia.
According to two of ESPN’s sources, Manziel received a flat five-figure fee in exchange for autographing hundreds of items while in Florida to attend the BCS title game in January. Multiple sources say they saw Manziel signing memorabilia in autograph broker Drew Tiernan’s residence, but no one saw the actual exchange of money.
If the NCAA – who has contacted Tiernan but did not comment on the report – finds that Manziel profited from selling his autograph, he will be ruled ineligible. According to ESPN’s reporting, a large amount of items with Manziel’s verified signature started flooding the market in the weeks after the national title game.
Manziel comes from a wealthy family funded by old Texas oil money (the Heisman winner drives a Mercedes and has purchased tickets to some of the biggest sporting events in the country), so it’s odd – but certainly not impossible – that he would want or need to sell his autograph. In Wright Thompson’s great profile last week, he wrote that Manziel’s father Paul bought him the Mercedes so his son didn’t “do something stupid to get it for himself." Still, if the ESPN report is believed, at least three people saw him signing the merchandise for a known broker.
Considering the NCAA’s record on enforcement, we’ll see how quickly this investigation moves or if it can actually prove the exchange of money for autographs took place. Manziel will be with his teammates and coaches Sunday night for a compliance meeting and dinner, and is scheduled to meet with the media Monday as the Aggies open up camp.