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Johnny Football, Autograph Hounds, and an Obscure Texas Statute

Written by Christian Dennie   
Thursday, 15 August 2013 13:44

Johnny Manziel has certainly gained life experiences this off-season, which have included time with famous rappers, batting practice with the San Diego Padres, and courtside seats during the NBA Finals. Unlike the vast majority of student-athletes, Manziel is followed with the persistence of the early courtship of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. The media follows his every turn. Manziel has been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice in August, which puts him in the category of the likes of Michael Jordan.

Manziel is back in the media with reports that he accepted remuneration for autographs on various memorabilia. If accurate, Manziel would have violated NCAA Bylaw 12.5.2 and its progeny. As with any investigation, the NCAA, without subpoena power, has its hands full attempting to gather information to support that Manziel actually received the alleged compensation. However, the NCAA’s efforts have been bolstered by autograph hounds' willingness to explain to the media that they provided compensation to Manziel for his signature.

In the words of Lee Corso, “not so fast my friend.” The State of Texas passed legislation in 1987 that could hold the autograph hounds liable for their actions if they paid Manziel for his autograph in violation of NCAA legislation. Section 131.004 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code states “a person who violates a rule of a national collegiate athletic association adopted by this chapter is liable for damages in an action brought by an institution if (1) the person knew or reasonably should have know that a rule was violated; and (2) the violation of the rule is a contributing factor to disciplinary action taken by the national collegiate athletic association against the institution or a student at the institution.” This would give Texas A&M University the authority to file suit against the autograph hounds if it or Manziel receives punishment from the NCAA. Accordingly, pursuant to Sections 131.006 and 131.007 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Texas A&M University's damages may include “lost television revenues and lost ticket sales of regular season and post-season athletic events” and “reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.” Certainly, if Manziel is not on the field for the Aggies, there could be substantial losses in revenue.

In short, autograph hounds might want to consider how loudly they express their purported shortcomings and alleged payments to Manziel. There is a Texas statute that can provide a hammer for their alleged actions.

For any questions, feel free to contact Christian Dennie at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The College Sports Law Blog provides posts on legal issues that intersect with sports.  The posts provided on the College Sports Law Blog and on this Web site are not to be considered legal advice and are not offering legal advice.  If you have any questions related to any topic posted hereon, consult a lawyer.


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