Albama Arkansas Auburn Florida Georgia Kentucky LSU Mississippi State Missouri Ole-Miss USC Tennessee Texas A&M Vanderbilt
Latest News

Does A&M’s Manziel Have A “Get Out Of Jail Free” Card? Let’s Look At The Rule Book

gfx - honest opinionYou know the NCAA rule book is confusing when multiple people looking at the same situation and the same set of rules all arrive at different conclusions.  And that’s just what’s happening when it comes to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and the NCAA’s investigation into his many, many signed and numbered autographs.

Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com recently reached out to the assistant professor of sports administration at Ohio University.  Dr. David Ridpath, according to Feldman, is “an expert on NCAA and compliance issues.”  So what’s Dr. Ridpath’s take on the current Manziel mess?

Asked specifically about the Cam Newton loophole — which has supposedly been closed by a new rule — in relation to Manziel’s high school friend and sorta/kinda manager, Nate Fitch, Dr. Ridpath sees an escape route for the elusive QB:

 

“I think this is the get out of jail free card — if there is no evidence pointing to Johnny’s knowledge and/or actual evidence of payment or perks, then this may all be a moot point.  If I am A&M, I am praying to a higher authority this works out — and frankly the NCAA is hoping the same thing.  Johnny may know, but if Fitch takes the bullet or truly acted on his own without any knowledge from Manziel than I think we have a simple eligibility restoration process and he misses zero games.

If there was some or even overt knowledge, I think the NCAA invokes the “Sugar Bowl” rule and figures out a way to let him play or just miss one or two games.  The NCAA wants no part of this and is desperately hanging on to amateurism and they are losing grip every day.

If Johnny is suspended for a length of time — the impact would be huge, but there might be a larger victory in that we can finally decide to let players capitalize on their own marketing utility and restrictions like this are silly.  No one cares if he or the OSU players profited off their likeness — we will still watch A&M versus Alabama.  That’s the bottom line — but in the present A&M has to deal with the crazy system we have and if they can pawn it off on Fitch or someone else — this might be Johnny Football’s greatest escape.

Also — in defense of the NCAA — they cannot win regardless of what is decided, but it is the world we live in.”

 

So we’ve got a rule book.  That rule book has a new rule to prevent family members or handlers from acting as agents for athletes and asking for cash.  Yet the NCAA — because no one wants to bench Johnny Football — is going to ignore that rule and let him play anyway?

If Dr. Ridpath is correct — and he probably is — this NCAA ruling will be just as much of a sham as its rulings in the Cam Newton, Tattoo-gate, and Penn State scandals.

Personally, I hope that Manziel is cleared and does play this season.  I think most people hope the young man will play.  He may find all kinds of ways to keep himself in the news, but at the end of the day he’s still a fun guy to watch play.

I just hope he can play because he and his pal didn’t ask for cash, not because the NCAA’s searching feverishly for a way to ignore it’s own rules.  If that’s the goal, however, it should be easy for the governing body to interpret its rule book in such way that Manziel can play.

Let’s take a quick look at what the NCAA’s 2012-13 manual has to say about the “Use of Agents” and how agents are defined:

 

12.02.1 Agent:  An agent is any individual who, directly or indirectly:

a) Represents or attempts to represent an individual for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation for financial gain; or

b) Seeks to obtain any type of financial gain or benefit from securing a prospective student-athlete’s enrollment at an educational institution or from a student-athlete’s potential earnings as a professional athlete.

12.02.1.1 Application:  An agent may include, but is not limited to, a certified contract advisor, financial advisor, marketing representative, brand manager or anyone who is employed or associated with such persons.

 

Let’s stop there for a second.  According to Wright Thompson’s deep-dive into Manziel’s life for ESPN The Magazine, Nate Fitch — or “Uncle Nate” as he’s called by friends — is Manziel’s “personal assistant” and “high school buddy.”  Thompson wrote that Fitch “dropped out of school this year to act as Johnny’s assistant and manager, handling media requests and helping coordinate” bodyguards for Manziel.

If the NCAA wants to live up to the letter of its recently-written law, it will view Fitch — if it’s found he asked for cash in exchange for his pal’s autograph — as an agent via clause 12.02.1 (a) above.

If the NCAA would prefer to look the other way on this, it could simply claim that it does not view Fitch as an agent.  Easy enough.  That would open the door for other “buddies” of student-athletes to start sticking their hands out in cash-for-autograph schemes, but when has the NCAA ever thought two steps ahead on anything?

Back to the rule book…

 

12.3.1 General Rule:  An individual shall be ineligible for participation in an intercollegiate sport if he or she ever has agreed (orally or in writing) to be represented by an agent for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation in that sport.  Further, an agency contract not specifically limited in writing to a sport or particular sports shall be deemed applicable to all sports, and the individual shall be ineligible to participate in any sport.

 

And there’s another loophole that the NCAA can use to get out of this mess.

If an agent is anyone close to a player who tries to make a buck off of that player’s athletic ability, Fitch would surely apply.  He’s with Manziel on a regular basis and even quit school to act as his handler.  And if he asked for cash for autographs, that should be viewed as marketing the “ability or reputation” of Johnny Football.  But it doesn’t have to be viewed in that fashion.

It appears the NCAA can rather easily state that Fitch was trying to make money off of his friend’s reputation, but he was not marketing his friend’s reputation (as in promoting that reputation).  Churning out thousands of autographed items would seem to me be marketing one’s reputation, but if the NCAA wants to let this slide, it can take the opposite view.

Again, I hope Manziel is allowed to play this year.  But he should not be allowed to play if Fitch asked for cash for autographs.

But the NCAA rule book remains murky.  And college sports’ governing body continues to be consistently inconsistent when it comes to rule book interpretations.  So we expect Manziel — like Newton and the Ohio State tattoo patrol before him — to be cleared in the end.

Just one thing is certain in all of this, though — if Fitch asked for cash and Manziel is still deemed eligible, the Cam Newton loophole was never actually closed.  Three years later, people can still argue over whether or not a player knew someone was making money off of him.  People can still argue about the definition of the word “agent” and of the word “marketing.”

So it appears that the NCAA’s rule book is really just one giant loophole after another.  And if Dr. Ridpath is correct, it won’t be long before the NCAA allows Manziel to slip through one of them and break into open field.

 


6 comments
HogFanTN
HogFanTN

John, what is the burden of proof for NCAA investigations?  In criminal cases, it's beyond reasonable doubt.  In civil, preponderance of evidence.  In NCAA?  It seems pretty obvious that no one signs 4400 articles out of kindness.  

If they are looking for ways to keep him eligible, that's a shame, but all they have to do is say investigation closed.  They don't really report to anyone but themselves and they've already proven that by being across the board in each case over the last few years.  They are a mess.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@HogFanTN 

Well, that's where things get tough to project.  The burden of proof can change from case to case.  The stronger the proof provided by the investigatory wing of the NCAA, the better the chances that the SEPARATE appeals committee won't turn the verdict over... but there's still no definitive need for a paper trail, for example.  

Think of it this way: Aaron Hernandez is going to be on trial for murder.  If police find the murder weapon, Hernandez's chances of beating the wrap will get smaller, but he's still facing a mountain of circumstantial evidence.  Even without the smoking gun, he'll likely be sent away for a long, long time.

On the other end of the spectrum, the evidence against OJ Simpson was as air-tight as you'll ever see, but he still walked on the double-murder charges.

Just as the burden of proof varies from case to case in our legal system, so too does it vary in the NCAA's "court system."

As far as simply closing the case, the NCAA is acting properly.  If they just closed the case and THEN it was learned that Manziel took $50,000 (a totally made up number for the sake of example), it would be clear that the NCAA didn't dig very hard and that fact wouldn't sit well with any school not named "Texas A&M."  How'd you like to have Johnny Football light up your team only to learn that the NCAA didn't do an in-depth investigation?

The point being, if this case winds up in the gray area -- and that appears likely -- the NCAA can look at it in one of two ways.  Either they're going to punish Manziel by the letter of the law... or they're going to look for a loophole that can keep him eligible.

It's got to be incredibly frustrating for A&M fans.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

Speedy98
Speedy98

Is there some actual evidence against Johnny that I missed, or are we still dealing with anonymous sources that will only talk to ESPN reporters?

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@Speedy98 

Actually, we're talking about an NCAA investigation into Johnny Manziel that was going on before ESPN reported its stories.  Sorry you don't like that fact.

Thanks for reading the site,

John


Speedy98
Speedy98

That is actually why I was asking.  From what I read the NCAA was investigating the large number of signed items for sale to see if Johnny was paid, it was ESPN that found people claiming to have paid Johnny for those items.  Those same people said they would not talk to the NCAA. 

Lots of smoke?  Yes;  Fire?  Probably, but if the NCAA is not led to the fire do they have to find a loophole to let Johnny off?

P.S. I am so Johnny fatigued at this point I just want it over with one way or the other.  I would be perfectly happy if we started Jockel, Davis or Hill this year.

Clarence
Clarence

@Speedy98  Agree with speedy.    The other kicker is Texas state law that says A&M can sue the brokers for damages if their actions against the rules causes JFF to get suspended.  No way those brokers are going to blab.  Their way of life will go under the microscope.  

IRS probably would like to know what they are buying and selling in cash.  Somebody has a tax-free cash income stream.  

Not to mention the damages A&M will claim with no Johnny Football.  He brought millions of dollars in revenue and attention.  Those brokers will go under trying to defend themselves.    

At this point, my guess is they are just glad the were able to make a nice gut punch to the celebrity Johnny Football and pay him back for them getting shutdown on Ebay for 2 weeks when he filed copyrights on Johnny Football.


I am not a crook. (Nixon)

Who knew what, when? (Reagan)

Read my lips.  (Bush)

It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.  (Clinton)

It's not what you did, it's what the NCAA can prove you did.  (Manziel)


Oh, and you think Johnny was the only one signing large quantities of autographs for charity?  Lots of charity loving college football players out there.

Trackbacks

  1. urlman cow says:

    The Birch of the Shadow

    I think there may be considered a few duplicates, but an exceedingly helpful record! I’ve tweeted this. Quite a few thanks for sharing!

  2. fast cash advance locations

    Get fast cash advance locations on my website

  3. fast cash advance payday loan

    Visit my site and get fast cash advance payday loan

  4. clyclex usa says:

    Websites you should visit

    [...]below you’ll find the link to some sites that we think you should visit[...]…

  5. Related…

    [...]just beneath, are numerous totally not related sites to ours, however, they are surely worth going over[...]…

  6. Himalaya says:

    Recommeneded websites

    [...]Here are some of the sites we recommend for our visitors[...]…



Follow Us On:
Mobile MrSEC