Texas A&M limits autographed items at "Meet the Aggies" event
Texas A&M is being extra cautious when giving fans autographs.
In a statement released Wednesday, the Aggies announced that players and coaches will not sign any memorabilia for fans attending the "Meet the Aggies" event Aug. 24.
Instead, the only autographs allowed will be on specially provided autograph cards, "in order to accommodate as many fans as possible." All other items must be left at the door.
"No other items -- for example, helmets, footballs, jerseys and photos -- will be allowed in the Gilliam Indoor Track Complex," the statement said.
The new policy comes in light of an NCAA investigation into whether Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was paid to sign memorabilia.
Texas A&M also said players and coaches would remain seated at the event and would not pose for photos.
Florida-based autograph dealer Kevin Freistat organized two additional autograph signings in which Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel signed memoribilia, including one after the BCS National Championship in January and another later that month in Houston.
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported the two new signings. Sources told the program Manziel has signed at a total of six sessions with brokers.
A former NCAA official said Monday that Manziel should not be eligible to play until the investigation over whether he accepted money for signing autographs is completed.
Jim Darnell, the attorney hired by Manziel, said he remains confident the redshirt sophomore will be on the field. He wouldn't disclose in a radio interview with ESPN whether Manziel has met with the NCAA or investigators.
When asked whether Manziel signed thousands of autographs for free, Darnell said "I can't get into that." He did say the truth will come out and Manziel will survive any investigation based on facts.
"There is no question Johnny signed autographs -- he signed a lot of autographs over the year," Darnell said. "I haven't seen anything yet that shows that he got paid."
An NCAA review might grow in scope after ESPN reported Tuesday that the Heisman Trophy winner appeared at even more signing events than had been first reported. Manziel is estimated to have signed his name more than 4,400 times in less than a month at a total of six signing sessions.
"Outside The Lines" previously reported that Manziel accepted thousands of dollars for signing memorabilia earlier this year and that he had agreed to a "five-figure flat fee" with Drew Tieman, an autograph broker, for signing memorabilia at the site of the 2013 BCS Championship Game. Witnesses say they saw Manziel autograph products in January but did not see money exchange hands.
The NCAA is investigating the allegations, and thus far, Manziel has not commented. Darnell, recently told USA Today that his client is cooperating with the NCAA.
"I can't say much other than we're working through the process," Darnell said. "We think when all this comes out on the other end, he'll be the starting quarterback for the Aggies against Rice."
The Aggies open the season Aug. 31 against the Owls.
Former NCAA enforcement director Mark Jones told the San Antonio Express-News that Manziel should be benched while the NCAA continues its probe.
"No one wants to play an athlete who's later determined to be ineligible, especially such a high-profile player," Jones said. "You don't want to risk having to vacate those games later on."
Florida attorney Michael Buckner, who focuses on NCAA investigations, agreed.
"A&M will not play Johnny Manziel if there's any question that he could be ineligible," Buckner told the Express-News.
He did not want to guess when the investigation might be finished. Texas A&M also is conducting its own investigation.
"But I would think it is going to be done in an expeditious manner," Buckner said. "I'm pretty sure all sides are working feverishly at this because there is a lot at stake."
As a student-athlete, Manziel must cooperate with the NCAA investigation. If he doesn't, he could be subject to being declared ineligible.
"He is required to tell the truth," Buckner said.
Darnell said the one thing that should come out of the Manziel autograph saga is a new look at what's wrong with the NCAA. The attorney said Manziel "is like every other 20-year-old kid. When you get this much publicity and people accusing you of things, you can get scared. The good thing he has going for him, is he knows what happened."
Darnell, based in El Paso, Texas, told ABC-7 that he could not comment on the status of the NCAA investigation.
ESPN Dallas and The Sports Xchange contributed to this report
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