Sports Collectors Daily spoke with a source at the National Sports Collectors Convention over the weekend who indicated an explosive story was coming soon involving Johnny Manziel and a paid autograph signing arrangement, a deal that if confirmed by NCAA investigators, would be against NCAA rules and likely mean major trouble for the talented Texas A&M quarterback.
The network cited two sources in its report that Manziel agreed to autograph a variety of items last January in Florida. In return, those sources say Manziel received “a five-figure flat fee” for signing “hundreds of autographs” on photos and sports memorabilia.
If true, both Manziel, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and his school, could be hit with NCAA penalties. Active players aren’t allowed to be compensated for autographs or other promotional activities.
ESPN reported that the signing was arranged by autograph dealer Drew Tieman, who they say approached Manziel when he landed at an airport in Florida where he was planning to watch the BCS National Championship between Alabama and Notre Dame on January 7. The sources cited by reporters Darren Rovell and Justin Gubar said they were among numerous people at Tieman’s home that day who witnessed the signing but they did not see an exchange of money.
One source told the network that Manziel signed more items before leaving Florida.
Hundreds of Manziel items have appeared on eBay since he rose to stardom after leading A&M to a win over Alabama last season and won the Heisman. Leaf Trading Cards featured Manziel autographs as inserts in one of its products last March which raised eyebrows inside and outside the hobby but there was no connection made in Sunday’s report that those signatures were part of the January signing session.
If the NCAA investigation proves Manziel was compensated for the signing, he could lose his eligibility.
Hundreds of Manziel items have been authenticated by PSA DNA and James Spence. More than 250 purported Manziel items are currently available on eBay and hundreds more have sold in the last nine months.