August 16, 2013

College Football Notebook: If flagged, Manziel might have company

By RALPH D. RUSSO The Associated Press

If Johnny Manziel did violate NCAA rules by receiving money for signing autographs, a Texas law could put the people who allegedly paid him at risk of being sued by Texas A&M.

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Johnny Manziel’s amateur status could be at risk from being paid to sign autographs, and if so, the people who enabled him could be sued by Texas A&M.

The Associated Press

Christian Dennie, a lawyer with Barlow Garsek & Simon, LLP in Fort Worth, Texas, wrote on the firm's website (http://bit.ly/16eiX4I) that the state of Texas passed legislation in 1987 to make "a person who violates a rule of a national collegiate athletic association liable for damages in an action brought by an institution."

To be liable, the person must have known or reasonably should have known a rule was violated and the violation must lead to disciplinary action against the student or institution."

Manziel, who became the first freshman to win the Heisman last year, is being investigated by the NCAA. ESPN has reported it is for possibly receiving payment from memorabilia brokers for signing autographs in Florida, Connecticut and Texas this year. If he is found to have been paid for signing, it could compromise his amateur status and put his eligibility at risk.

Manziel's attorney, Jim Darnell of El Paso, Texas, has said the quarterback is cooperating with the investigation. Darnell has said he believes Manziel will be playing Aug. 31 when the Aggies open against Rice. Texas A&M plays Sam Houston State a week later and hosts Alabama on Sept. 14.

Dennie, who attended law school at Oklahoma, worked in its athletic department and is the author of College Sports Law Blog, told the AP on Thursday that if the NCAA finds reason to penalize Manziel and/or Texas A&M, the school could file a lawsuit in Texas even if Manziel is punished for transgressions committed in Florida or Connecticut.

"With personal jurisdiction, it's more complicated than just where something happened," Dennie said.

Other factors that could determine jurisdiction include, where negotiations took place, where products were sold (in-person or online) and where advertising for the products was done.

Texas A&M would have to claim damages in a lawsuit, which Dennie wrote could include lost television revenues and lost ticket sales of regular- season and postseason athletic events" and "reasonable attorney's fees and costs." But those are just suggestions.

"The statute itself doesn't outline specifics for damages," Dennie said.

Texas A&M could get creative, and even claim damage to its reputation that could be tied to revenues.

"He is a good kid. He is an honest kid," Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "He has his heart in the right place. My mother wishes I was as nice a kid as Johnny when I was a sophomore in college."

MISSOURI: Coach Gary Pinkel is going with senior James Franklin to start at quarterback.

Pinkel said Franklin, who was dogged by injuries last season, beat out redshirt freshman Maty Mauk and will get the nod for the Aug. 31 opener against Murray State.

VIRGINIA TECH: Outside linebacker Ronny Vandyke (shoulder) and running back Tony Gregory (right knee) both require surgery and will be lost for the season, and starting offensive lineman Mark Shuman will miss 4-6 weeks after surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee.

TENNESSEE: The Volunteers hope a different look leads to different results.

Coach Butch Jones unveiled subtle changes to Tennessee's usual uniforms and introduced an alternate uniform to be used in one home game this season. The new gear, designed by Adidas, signifies a new era as Tennessee tries ending a string of three consecutive losing seasons.

The alternate uniform features jerseys and pants in a color school officials described as "Smokey gray," a nod to the team's mascot. Jones said the 1914 Tennessee team wore gray jerseys and went undefeated.

OREGON: Soft-spoken quarterback Marcus Mariota, who bulked up with 12 pounds of muscle over the summer, said he's ready to break out and become a more vocal leader of the Ducks in his sophomore year.

"I have really high expectations for myself as well as this team," Mariota said. "So I'm going to really push myself as a leader to help these guys -- as well as myself -- to get where we want to go."

He's already got an impressive skillset. Last season as a redshirt freshman, Mariota set the team's single-season record with 38 touchdowns (32 passing, 5 rushing, 1 receiving), surpassing the previous mark of 36 held by Darron Thomas (2011) and Akili Smith (1998).

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