The line in the sand that Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp drew regarding quarterback Johnny Manziel's innocence of allegations that he accepted money from autograph dealers has apparently been re-drawn by Manziel himself.
CBSSports.com reported Tuesday morning that Manziel denied wrongdoing in a nearly six-hour meeting with NCAA investigators on Sunday. Late Monday night, ESPN reported that the meeting between Manziel and the NCAA took place. Meanwhile, wagons circled in College Station earlier Monday night as Jason Cook, a senior official in the Texas A&M athletic department, made it clear that neither coach Kevin Sumlin, nor TAMU staff or players, would address the issue at the Aggies' regular Tuesday news conference.
Manziel is alleged in three ESPN reports to have accepted money, in one case $7,500, for signing thousands of autographs in six sessions for three different memorabilia dealers in three different states. That would violate an NCAA rule prohibiting athletes from promoting commercial products for sale, but the NCAA is in an investigative stage and hasn't publicly made allegations of any kind. The month-long firestorm comes to a head this week, however, as Aggies officials are saddled with the decision of whether to play Manziel and risk NCAA penalty if he is later ruled ineligible, or bench the Heisman Trophy winner until he receives NCAA clearance.
Every indication from Texas A&M indicates the Aggies' course of action will be the former, not the latter. Texas A&M opens the season Saturday against visiting Rice, and Manziel has continued to practice with the first-unit offense.