The first report, from Billy Liucci of the website TexAgs.com, came via Twitter and said: “Latest on Manziel? Per multiple sources, he’ll be suspended for first half of season opener versus Rice on Saturday.”
Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com followed up minutes later on his Twitter account with this post: “Can confirm TexAgs report, Johnny Manziel will be sidelined for 1st half of A&M opener vs. Rice per source close to the QB.”
Although multiple messages have been left by the Star-Telegram, no A&M or NCAA official has confirmed the reports. From all indications, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner would not be found guilty of accepting money for signing autographs but would be found in violation of NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199: Use of a student’s name or picture without knowledge or permission.
Under that bylaw, athletes are “required to take steps to stop” the use of their name or picture on commercial items used to promote a commercial project or sold by an individual or agency.
During a Sunday meeting with NCAA investigators, Manziel denied accepting money for signing memorabilia, sources told CBSSports.com.
Although sitting down Manziel for one half of one game marks an unusual penalty, such a move would provide clarity for both A&M and the NCAA in regard to Manziel’s eligibility status for the 2013 season. It also would stand as a compromise solution to an investigation in which there was no reported evidence of Manziel accepting money, despite ESPN reports citing sources that said he did so.
Assuming that Manziel truly sits out the first half of Saturday’s game, A&M will select between two former Tarrant County high school players as its starting quarterback against Rice: Matt Joeckel, a junior from Arlington High School, and Kenny Hill, a freshman from Southlake Carroll.
_ Jimmy Burch