Johnny Manziel suspended for first half of season opener
After being accused of receiving payment for autographs, Manziel met with the NCAA on Sunday to deny the claims against him. The meeting went on for five and a half hours, through most of which the NCAA focused on Manziel's financial records.
The NCAA eventually acknowledged that Manziel accepted no money in return for autographs, but that he was in violation of NCAA by-law 18.104.22.168 - "Use of a Student-Athlete's Name or Picture without Knowledge or Permission." The rule is described by the NCAA as follows:
"If a student-athlete's name or picture appears on commercial items (e.g. T-shirts, sweatshirts, serving trays, playing cards, posters, photographs) 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 the steps to stop such an activity in order to retain his or her eligibility for intercollegiate athletics."
It is not yet clear exactly how Manziel violated this rule, but the NCAA and Texas A&M agreed on a suspension for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner - the first half of the team's season opener against Rice.
It's less than a slap on the wrist, but until we know the full extent of Manziel's actions, it is tough to say whether or not they were too easy on him. Manziel's lawyer, Jim Darnell, did not think Manziel deserved the suspension at all. "We don't really believe [the suspension] was warranted," Darnell said, "but we believed the NCAA and Texas A&M worked with us to get the matter resolved. Johnny was willing to accept it to get back on the football field and compete."
If any new information regarding Manziel's violations is revealed, the NCAA will adjust the punishment as they feel necessary. "If additional information comes to light, the NCAA will review and consider if further action is appropriate," the NCAA said in a joint statement. "NCAA rules are clear that student-athletes may not accept money for the items they sign, and based on information provided by Manziel, that did not happen in this case."
It is no surprise that Manziel was willing to accept this punishment and put the allegations behind him, as the suspension should not affect Texas A&M's season at all. The Aggies are 27-point favorites over Rice for the season opener, and even if they do find themselves in a tight game at halftime, one half is likely all Manziel will need to get the win for his team.
Kenny Hill - a true freshman out of Southlake, Texas - looks like he'll get the start in Manziel's absence. Hill is a dual-threat quarterback who was ranked 21st at his position coming out of high school last year, according to ESPN. Matt Joeckel is also competing to be Manziel's backup, but Hill has taken the majority of second-team reps so far during practice.
Once we hit halftime of the Rice vs. Texas A&M game, this whole situation will likely be behind us, and Manziel will begin his journey towards a second consecutive Heisman Trophy.