Since leading his Texas A&M team to an 11-2 record in their first season in the South Eastern Conference and winning the Heisman Trophy in the process, college football sensation Johnny Manziel has repeatedly found himself in the center of controversial events that have called his judgement into question. He has become a lightning rod for media and fan scrutiny for his partying and was even booted from the prestigious Manning Passing Academy last month for reporting late to practice.
While these minor indiscretions could be chalked up to his youth and recently gained social status as the face of college football, recent allegations from the NCAA could not only add to his bad boy image, it could also cost him precious time on the field.
The NCAA recently opened an investigation into whether or not Manziel received compensation for signing autographs. The allegations stem from an encounter between Manziel and a Florida autograph dealer named Drew Tieman. Manziel reportedly signed hundreds of items at the behest of Tieman, including everything from photographs to mini souvenir helmets.
The NCAA grew suspicious when the items began to appear of auction website Ebay. While no hard evidence of Manziel profiting from this home operation has been presented, it seems incredibly suspicious that Tieman would make thousands of dollars off of the autographs without kicking any back to Manziel. It is possible that Manziel is just that nice of a guy, but that is hard to accept in today's era of the multi-millionaire athlete.
If found guilty of violating NCAA rules regarding receiving compensation Manziel could face suspension or even being ruled ineligible for play. Similar situations have come up in the recent past, including an incident at Ohio State University in which several players, including then star quarterback Tyrrelle Pryor, were found to have received free tattoos from a Columbus parlor. The players were slapped with multi-game suspensions, but Pryor declared for the NFL before serving his.
The public's view of the investigation will likely fall on either side of the pay for play argument of whether or not student-athletes should be compensated by the NCAA. Texas head football coach Mack Brown recently came out in favor, but the debate rages on. If Manziel is found guilty, and that is still up in the air at this point, he could viewed either as a devious kid who is subverting the NCAA's authority or a kid who only wants to profit in the same way everyone around him is.
Texas A&M has refused to discuss the investigation with the media.