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Johnny Manziel suspended for 1st half of Texas A&M’s opener

Updated: September 30, 2013 2:05PM

HOUSTON — Johnny Football’s season will start a little late.

Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was suspended for the first half of Texas A&M’s season opener Saturday against Rice for what the school called an ‘‘inadvertent’’ violation of NCAA rules by signing auto-
graphs. The penalty appears to have put an end to a probe that could have ruined the No. 7 Aggies’ season.

The school issued a statement Wednesday saying that it declared Manziel ineligible and that the NCAA agreed to reinstate him after he sits out the first half against the Owls. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Matt Joeckel or Kenny Hill.

‘‘I am proud of the way both coach [Kevin] Sumlin and Johnny handled this situation, with integrity and honesty,’’ Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp said in the statement. ‘‘We all take the Aggie Code of Honor very seriously, and there is no
evidence that either the university or Johnny violated that code.’’

Manziel was being investigated by the NCAA for allegedly accepting money for signing autographs for memorabilia brokers, a violation of NCAA rules that could have led to a much longer suspension. According to the statement, Texas A&M and the NCAA ‘‘confirmed there is no evidence Manziel received money in exchange for autographs based on currently available information and statements by Manziel.’’

Conditions for reinstatement include Manziel discussing his actions with teammates and the Aggies revising how they educate student-athletes about signing autographs.

‘‘Student-athletes are often asked for autographs from fans,’’ said Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president of academic and membership affairs. ‘‘Unfortunately, some individuals’ sole motivation in seeking an autograph is for resale. It is important that schools are cognizant and
educate student-athletes about situations in which there is a strong likelihood that the autograph-seeker plans to resell the items.’’

The day before Texas A&M reported for preseason practice, ESPN reported Manziel signed thousands of autographs for brokers in Texas, Florida and Connecticut and cited unidentified sources who said Manziel was paid thousands for dollars for the signatures.

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