A Guest Post: Preview of HubGab.com
The NCAA ruled on Johnny “Football” Manziel’s alleged NCAA rule violations on Wednesday, just in time for the kick-off of the new season.
Texas A&M and the NCAA announced in a joint statement that because they had no evidence against Johnny Manziel, he would only receive a half-game suspension for the Aggies opening game versus Rice University (a 31 point underdog no less) for violating NCAA bylaw 188.8.131.52.
NCAA bylaw 184.108.40.206 states that student-athletes :
“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.”
We also learn from the joint statement that the “NCAA rules are clear that student-athletes may not accept money for items they sign, and based on information provided by Manziel, that did not happen in this case.” (my emphasis).
What about that part of the rule which says: “permits the use of his . . . name or picture to . . . promote directly the sale . . . of a commercial product . . . of any kind.”
The NCAA Vice President Kevin Lennon said: “Student-athletes are often asked for autographs from fans, but unfortunately, some individuals’ sole motivation in seeking an autograph is for resale. 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.”
How does that apply to a situation where one person has him putting his signature on the hundreds of pictures and football helmets? Was Johnny so obtuse he couldn’t figure out the person was intending to sell those items?
After the statement and penalty, it is clear that the NCAA would do whatever possible to protect its only Freshman Heisman Trophy winner. The investigation was disingenuous at best. But, why pretend to investigate in the first place if they’ll be no penalty? If you’re going to selectively enforce the by-law, why not just abolish it.
Here’s why the NCAA failed.
First, the NCAA states it based its decision on the information provided by the person against whom they are investigating who had excellent legal representation. Did anyone expect Johnny to hand over evidence? Is that how investigations are done by the NCAA, ask the person if he committed the act?
Second, the NCAA stated there was no evidence to back up the allegations of wrongdoing but will review again “if additional information comes to light.” Talk about turning a blind eye. All the NCAA had to do was look on EBay. Thousands of Johnny Manziel autographs were available in collections that were numbered consecutively. The signature itself was in the same pen and kept the same characteristics of shape and style throughout.
Anyone who has been around athletes and sporting events knows that the athletes avoid the professional autographs hounds like the plague. Athletes will sign for kids but try to break away from the autograph seekers as quickly as possible. To think the Johnny Football signed hundreds or thousands autographs for a stranger out of the goodness of his heart without remuneration is not only giving him the benefit of the doubt, it is giving him the whole store. And it also ignores all the pictures and the statements from the anonymous autograph brokers who claim Johnny was paid.
Now, I would have no problem with the NCAA glossing over the autographs and levying a non-penalty such as this if this were an “unofficial” policy of the NCAA.
But, it’s not. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys receiver, was suspended 10 games while at Oklahoma State for simply having dinner with Deion Sanders. Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor was suspended 5 games while at Ohio State for receiving free tattoos in exchange for memorabilia. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Receiver, was given a four-game suspension while at Georgia for selling his Independence Bowl jersey to a person with questionable agent-like characteristics.
One commentator noted: “And in light of comparatively stiffer penalties levied against other prominent minority student-athletes who arguably committed lesser sins, the NCAA’s system of justice looks unbalanced and half-witted.”
I’m not so sure the decision was made on the color of the person’s skin although it’d look that way to an impartial observer; I’d prefer to think that it was mostly motivated by the color of green, the dollars that will flow to the coffers of the NCAA, Texas A&M, and CBS which hosts the Texas A&M/Alabama game three days after 9/11.