The Johnny Manziel situation has (reportedly) come to a conclusion, albeit with a final — and bizarre — twist.
In a tweet from Billy Liucci Wednesday afternoon regarding the Texas A&M quarterback, the TexAgs.com reporter wrote that “[p]er multiple sources, he’ll be suspended for first half of season-opener versus Rice on Saturday.” Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com and Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com subsequently confirmed the first-half suspension
As for the specific reason for a suspension — which has not been confirmed by the Aggies — Liucci writes that he is “assuming [the] suspension would involve secondary violation of by-law 126.96.36.199.”
That bylaw, titled “Use of a Student-Athlete’s Name or Picture Without Knowledge or Permission,” appears in full below:
If a student-athlete’s name or picture appears on commercial items (e.g., T-shirts, sweatshirts, serving trays, playing cards, posters) or is used to promote a commercial product sold by an individual or agency without the student-athlete’s knowledge or permission, the student-athlete (or the institution acting on behalf of the student-athlete) is required to take steps to stop such an activity in order to retain his or her eligibility for intercollegiate athletics. Such steps are not required in cases in which a student-athlete’s photograph is sold by an individual or agency (e.g., private photographer, news agency) for private use.
Essentially, if the reports are accurate, Manziel would be suspended for failing to take the proper steps to ensure that individuals were not profiting off his name and likeness. It had been reported that Manziel had received tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for his signature on thousands of photos and pieces of memorabilia.
What remains unclear is if this would be merely a school-driven punishment or one that would end the NCAA’s involvement in the situation.
More than likely, it’s the latter as McMurphy reported that this suspension “closes the book” on the situation, with the “NCAA [acknowledging] Manziel did not accept money” in exchange for his signature. Over the weekend, the NCAA spent six hours grilling Manziel in relation to his involvement with autograph dealers. Everyone connected to the A&M football program has been since barred from discussing the Johnny Football situation by the school’s athletic director.
It had also been reported over the weekend that A&M had “no plans” to sit Manziel, although that no longer appears to be the case.
If Manziel is suspended for the first half of the game against Rice — he could miss the entire game as head coach Kevin Sumlin could choose to sit him out in the second half of what’s expected to be a blowout — the Aggies would turn to either junior Matt Joeckel or true freshman Kenny Hill. By most accounts, the latter has been the most impressive of the two during summer camp.