The NCAA autograph scandal heard round the world has come to a close with a slap on the wrist. Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel has been suspended for one half of the Aggies' season opener against Rice University on August 31. The mere 30 minutes of punishment is causing fits of digital laughter and eye rolling on Twitter, with hundreds of new comments going up every minute.
A joint statement from Texas A&M and the NCAA says the punishment is a result of Manziel's autograph being sold. Ironically, the webpage listing the suspension featured a photo of Manziel that was for sale by the university. The advertisement has since been removed.
Ironically, the webpage listing the suspension featured a photo of Manziel that was for sale by the university. The advertisement has since been removed.
NCAA regulations prevent student-athletes from selling their signature or allowing others to profit from it. Manziel was accused of signing footballs and photos in exchange for at least $10,000. He denies those reports.
"There is no evidence that quarterback Johnny Manziel received money in exchange for autographs, based on currently available information and statements by Manziel," the statement reads. The terms of his punishment also require Manziel to "address the team regarding the situation and lessons learned."
The pronouncement of Manziel's punishment comes three days after the NCAA reportedly questioned the Heisman Trophy winner for six hours on campus about the autograph incident. On August 26, Texas A&M senior associate athletics director Jason Cook was still referring to Manziel as the Aggies' starting quarterback.
Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, pointed out the treacherous territory that popular players encounter when asked to sign autographs. "Student-athletes are often asked for autographs from fans, but unfortunately, some individuals’ sole motivation in seeking an autograph is for resale," Lennons said in a statement.
"It is important that schools are cognizant and educate student-athletes about situations in which there is a strong likelihood that the autograph seeker plans to resell the items."
A half-game suspension in a non-conference game is a punishment Texas A&M can certainly live with. By all accounts, the NCAA's investigation of Manziel has ended, and he is cleared to start in the September 14 rematch against SEC rival Alabama. Of course, that could still change.
"If additional information comes to light, the NCAA will review and consider if further action is appropriate," the statement reads. "NCAA rules are clear that student-athletes may not accept money for items they sign, and based on information provided by Manziel, that did not happen in this case."
College football fans are having fun ribbing Johnny Football's suspension on Twitter. Manziel has yet to chime in on the social network, though history would suggest a snarky response is imminent.
Johnny Manziel's weak suspension is the biggest traveshamockery I have seen since Macklemore won best Hip Hop video at the VMAs.— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) August 28, 2013
BREAKING: Johnny Manziel will only receive a slap on half of his wrist.— The Fake ESPN (@TheFakeESPN) August 28, 2013
Johnny Manziel's punishment also included a 'stern talking' to and 5 minutes in time out— Baylor Bearmada (@BaylorBearmada) August 28, 2013
Ironically, Johnny Manziel will be made available to sign autographs for bored fans during the first half of the Rice game.— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) August 28, 2013