Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback, is under NCAA investigation after sources said he was paid "a five-figure flat fee" in January to sign hundreds of autographs on photos and sports memorabilia, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported Sunday.
Johnny Manziel, the 20-year-old Heisman football phenom, could be ruled ineligible to play if the claims are substantiated, according to NCAA rules.
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NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168 prohibits student-athletes from accepting money for promotion or sale of a product or service.
Three sources told NCAA officials that autograph broker Drew Tieman approached Manziel in January at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, where the football star landed to attend the Discover BCS Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame.
Shortly after the first meeting, Manziel and his friend and personal assistant Nathan Fitch met up with Tieman at his south Florida apartment where Manziel signed photographs, footballs, and mini helmets, the sources said. He also reportedly signed hundreds of other items before heading back to Texas.
The sources said they witnessed the signing but never saw money change hands, ESPN reported.
The issue of Manziel signing autographs for money has come up before. In March, ESPN contacted Texas A&M's compliance director David Batson after a collection of Manziel-signed items showed up on memorabilia markets and eBay.
"Johnny has indicated on numerous occasions and, once again earlier today, that he has never (and to his knowledge, his parents, other relatives, and friends have ever) been compensated through cash or other benefits or promises of deferred compensation for providing his autograph," Batson wrote in a statement at the time.
Manziel has been the focus of much media scrutiny during the past off-season for a series of controversial public happenings. He's been spotted hanging out with rappers at bars despite not being 21. He's penned a few contentious tweets that said he couldn’t wait to leave College Station, the home of Texas A&M.
Last month, he was sent home early from the Manning Passing Academy after oversleeping and missing a meeting, according to NFL.com.
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