NCAA heavies traveled to College Station on Sunday and met with Johnny Manziel for nearly six hours, grilling him on allegations that he accepted money to sign autographs. Manziel reportedly maintained his innocence, setting up a collision course with the enforcement of an immoral yet immutable rule.
ESPN first reported that NCAA investigators met with Manziel on A&M's campus this weekend. (And no, Chancellor Sharp, Darren Rovell wasn't involved.) They questioned him for a really fucking long time over claims from multiple memorabilia dealers that Manziel was paid thousands of dollars for signing autographs. CBS adds this:
According to the source, much of the NCAA's inquiry with Manziel on Sunday was focused on the quarterback's financial records and the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback told the NCAA that he did not accept money from memorabilia brokers for autographs.
If Manziel didn't take cash, or if investigators can't prove it, he's fine. But if he did, for all the stupidity of a rule banning a player from making money off his own name, the NCAA is now past the point of no return. Maybe it could have let some signings slide, or punish him lightly—even the NCAA can't want its biggest star and reigning Heisman winner declared ineligible, not with TV partners to keep happy and the big programs just looking for an excuse to overhaul the entire system. But Manziels' denial potentially opens the door to an even worse transgression as far as the NCAA is concerned: lying.
Remember that Dez Bryant committed no NCAA violations. But for his crime of lying to investigators, he was suspended an entire season. There's no wiggle room here. If Manziel did something but said he didn't, the NCAA would have to come down just as hard on him or lay its hypocrisy bare. As much as Manziel is getting railroaded by an unjust rule, it might almost be worth it just to see the NCAA shoot itself in the face.