Now that the NCAA’s investigation into whether or not Johnny “Football” Manziel received payment on separate occasions for signing memorabilia for autograph brokers has come to an official close, resulting in his 1/2 game suspension, let’s look at the finer points of the investigation and its conclusions. Despite the misinformation from certain sources during this process, these are the actual results of the “case”.
Was Johnny Manziel punished for taking money to sign memorabilia?
No. There’s no evidence that he received any money and was not punished for doing so.
Did Manziel take money to sign anything?
No. The NCAA and Texas A&M investigation showed there is no evidence at all that he was paid or remunerated in any way for any goods or services from anyone. Any accusation to such is false and without merit.
Since there is no evidence to the accusations, can Manziel or Texas A&M sue ESPN, Darren Rovell, or Joe Schad for libel (a published defamation without merit that causes damages)?
Yes, however it’s highly unlikely at this point. Technically, anyone can bring forward any suit for damages, but a judge would have to accept the case and libel suits are hard to win. Since the investigation is officially over, there is good reason to put this entire situation to bed and be done with it for all parties involved, including the source of the story. Any lawsuit would allow for a discovery phase into the civil proceedings which would include subpoena from the defendant, and there aren’t many connected to college sports who want to go thru such a discovery process that would reveal other potentially damaging issues, inadvertent or otherwise. It’s best to let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak. For all parties.
Why did JF get a ½ game suspension?
He must sit out for a ½ game “due to an inadvertent violation regarding the signing of certain autographs” which means he did not intentionally break any NCAA rules, nor is there evidence that he did, in fact, actually violate any NCAA rules. (source)
Did the NCAA give JF a ½ game suspension? If not, who did?
No. The NCAA did not give a ½ game eligibility suspension to Johnny Manziel. Texas A&M University ruled him ineligible for the first 1/2 of the 1st game. The NCAA accepted this penalty as sufficient to close the matter unless more damning evidence in the future appears.
Why did the investigation only take 3 weeks? Was it really expedited?
The investigation first began in late spring/early summer. Since there was no evidence at all to the accusations after over 60 days, the investigation was ceased due to a lack of credible evidence to show otherwise. The NCAA does not intend to revisit the investigation as it currently sits.
Accepting the punishment means that JF probably took money and negotiated a deal, right?
No. The punishment specifically states that any violation was inadvertent and that Manziel didn’t violate any rules intentionally.
The joint statement b/tw A&M and NCAA said they can investigate further if new info comes to light. Darren Rovell was pleading on Twitter for new info to be revealed. Should we expect new proof to come out?
No. The NCAA considers the matter closed. Given Rovell’s personal vendetta in this investigation, though, it’s likely he will continue to research or even lob accusations, but to date none of his accusations have any proof behind them at all, including that Manziel was ever involved in any mass signing events or that they actually happened. Any source Rovell quoted in his story has not come to light, thus the NCAA considers his accusations baseless.
What evidence of the violation did the NCAA actually have?
Other than items for sale in the marketplace (such as eBay.com), there is no evidence that any of the accusations are true in any way.
If there’s no evidence he took money, why would he sign 4,400+ items?
There’s no evidence that he signed 4,400+ items or that 4,400+ signed items actually exist. There are items for sale on the secondary market, as there are any of the other known star college football players such as Jadaveon Clowney, Tajh Boyd, AJ McCarron, or Teddy Bridgewater. Although there may be more Manziel items for sale, it would be understandable since, as the 2012 Heisman Trophy recipient, his celebrity is much more than the others. Any discrepancy would be commiserate with access he’d have in the public to sign items for fans. It’s likely there are many forgeries on the market for sale. Even if authentication of a signature follows the product, it could still be a forgery. There are multiple accounts of sig authentication being false available on the internet (eg – source, source, source)
Is there an affidavit from one of the reported “sources” that says he was bribed/coerced to falsify facts in the report to Rovell?
There’s no evidence that there is such an affidavit. Any rumors to the kind would probably be fruitless, as such a piece of evidence would be withheld unless needed in the future.
Johnny Manziel – After his university-imposed suspension of 2 quarters of the first game, he may resume participation in NCAA-sanctioned activities. He is not barred from any other team activities. No other punishment is levied or expected.
Texas A&M University – By conducting a thorough investigation in part with the NCAA and carrying all due diligence possible, the university is not sanctioned in any way, nor do they expect to be at any point in the future. Because of the nature of the investigation closing, it’s unlikely that any future games would be forfeited if future evidence is brought to light regarding the situation.
NCAA – The investigation of the matter is closed with the caveat that if any future evidence is brought to light, they have the right to re-investigate. However, based on interviews & investigation into bank records and activities of Johnny Manziel and his family by the NCAA, there is no evidence in any way that the accusations from Rovell are anything but false.
Darren Rovell – Although he has reportedly investigated this since February, he was unable to justify any of his accusations thru proof via testimony, paper trail, or any other means of evidence. It’s another in a rather long line of embarrassing stories he’s involved with that have shown him to be erroneous or dishonest in his reporting (source source source). Expect him to keep an active ear to the ground to find any way to bring this back up to save face, but without hard evidence to the contrary, the matter is closed in the NCAA’s eyes and no future action is expected.