Johnny Manziel allegedly traded autographs for money, according to a report by ESPN’s Outside The Lines on Sunday. The report alleges that the Heisman Trophy winner is under investigation by the NCAA.
According to the report, Manziel was paid a large sum of cash for signing hundreds of photos and sports memorabilia in January while in Miami for the Discover BCS National Championship.
The report cites two sources that apparently witnessed the signing, but never saw money change hands. According to them, the autographs were placed on photographs, footballs, mini football helmets, and other items.
The transaction reportedly took place between Johnny Manziel and autograph broker Drew Tieman. The pair initially met when Manziel touched down on January 6.
Then, the Heisman Trophy winner went to Tieman’s residence and signed hundreds of items in the front room, even though there were several people present to witness the exchange. The items have since appeared for sale on eBay.
If the autograph scandal proves true, Johnny Manziel will be in big trouble, as the allegations violate the NCAA’s Bylaw 18.104.22.168, which is accepting money for promoting or advertising the commercial sale of a product or service. The punishment for such an offense is being ruled ineligible to play.
The allegations against Manziel are the latest in a series of violations by college football players, notes USA Today. But they also represent something more. While student athletes are not allowed to profit from their memorabilia, dealers and merchants around them can.
But Manziel’s family has attempted to keep this from happening. The family set up a corporation, JMAN2 Enterprises, and licensed his nickname, Johnny Football, when his fame took off last year. The steps were taken to prevent others from profiting off of Johnny’s likeness. But Manziel cannot reap those profits until his college eligibility is exhausted or he has left college to compete in the NFL.
It is unclear what the punishment would be if Johnny Manziel really did trade his autographs for money.