Kevin Sumlin wouldn’t comment extensively on it Monday, but Texas A&M is lawyering up as allegations that quarterback Johnny Manziel received money for signing memorabilia have surfaced over the past day.
A&M confirmed to the USA Today a previous report by the publication that the school has retained the services of Birmingham law firm Lightfoot, Franklin and White as legal counsel. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same firm that represented Auburn in 2010 when former quarterback (and eventual Heisman Trophy winner) Cam Newton had his eligibility come into question.
There are some minor similarities between the two cases, but more differences. Whereas Newton’s father, Cecil, faced allegations of essentially shopping his son’s playing services to Mississippi State, Manziel is directly accused by a report from “Outside the Lines” of signing memorabilia for money while he was in Miami this past January to attend the BCS championship game.
Where Manziel’s situation could more closely resemble Newton’s case is an additional report from ESPN that was published Monday claiming Manziel’s friend and personal assistant told an autograph broker that the redshirt sophomore would not sign autographs going forward without compensation. In fact, that would appear to violate the Cam Newton rule passed by the NCAA that extends the agent label to other individuals close to an athlete, such as family or friends.
If the report is true, that is. And it shouldn’t be assumed that the Manziel case will have a similar outcome.
A&M is certainly looking for one though. The law firm was able to help keep Newton from missing any games during the 2010 season.
Manziel was at practice on Monday and Sumlin made it clear he plans on preparing for the season as though his starting quarterback will be eligible.