Campus reacts to investigation result
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013 00:08
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will be a spectator for Saturday’s season opening game against Rice, but only for the first half.
A&M and the NCAA announced Wednesday in a press release that while there is no evidence Manziel received money in exchange for autographs, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner will be suspended for half of the football game against Rice on Saturday.
Manziel was ruled ineligible after an “inadvertent violation regarding the signing of certain autographs,” according to the press release. The two institutions came to a conclusion after evaluating currently available information and statements from Manziel himself.
“Texas A&M University would like to thank the NCAA staff, not only for its fairness and professionalism throughout this process, but also for the expediency of its actions,” Director of Athletics Eric Hyman said in a statement. “Texas A&M is a proud member of the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference and, as such, we will continue to abide by the rules governing the association and the conference.”
In order to be reinstated by the NCAA, Manziel will face the suspension and must address the A&M team regarding the situation and the lessons he learned.
Texas A&M will also revisit its future education in regard to student-athlete autographs for individuals with multiple items.
“Texas A&M is committed to competing with integrity and sportsmanship and we will continue to ensure strict compliance guidelines for our student-athletes, coaches and supporters,” Hyman said.
The NCAA said in the release that if additional information comes to light it will consider whether further action is appropriate. According to the release, Texas A&M and the NCAA will have no further comment on the matter.
“Student-athletes are often asked for autographs from fans, but unfortunately, some individuals’ sole motivation in seeking an autograph is for resale,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs. “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.”
Earlier this month ESPN reported that the NCAA was investigating whether Manziel was paid for signing autographs several times throughout the 2012 football season and into the bowl season.
Through fall practices, Texas A&M players and coaches were informed not to speak on the Manziel allegations. The announced suspension comes 48 hours before the Aggies kick off the 2013 season.
“I am proud of the way both Coach Sumlin and Johnny handled this situation, with integrity and honesty,” said A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. “We all take the Aggie Code of Honor very seriously and there is no evidence that either the University or Johnny violated that code.”
The same Texas A&M students who celebrated an 11-win season and Heisman Trophy a year ago, reacted to the news of Manziel’s one half suspension.
“Honestly, I’m not surprised,” said Arielle Hess, junior agricultural communications and journalism major. “I believe the only reason he got any sort of punishment at all is because the NCAA needed to save some face.”
With the NCAA unable to obtain evidence, many students felt in limbo during the whole process, not knowing who the starting quarterback would be just days before the season began.
“From what I have heard, it has been very difficult to produce actual evidence against Manziel in the investigation other than hearsay,” said Chase Mazzilli, junior mechanical engineering major. “If the NCAA is to maintain a standard of integrity, I feel they would need more than just circumstantial evidence to rightly punish him. As for the half-game suspension, I feel that if he had been found guilty, the punishment should have been more severe. A half game suspension is somewhat insignificant this early in the season.”
As students pulled tickets and ate meals on campus, talk of Saturday’s game took a certain turn for the positive as a collective sigh of relief from the student body was let out.
“As an A&M student I can only hope that this autograph ordeal and the rest of this hectic offseason can be put in the past,” said Andrew Hoefer, sophomore Blinn Team student. “With the start of the season, people will hopefully shift their focus from actions off the field to what happens on it.”
Texas A&M and Rice are set to kick off at 12 p.m. Saturday at Kyle Field with the game broadcast on ESPN.