Johnny Manziel was suspended by the NCAA and Texas A&M for the first half of the team’s Week 1 game against the Rice Owls for an "inadvertent violation" of collegiate rules, per George Schroeder of the USA Today.
This ruling and subsequent punishment may have officially closed the case, but there will be serious ramifications from the odd suspension.
Manziel was embroiled in a controversy that featured several memorabilia dealers claiming that the Aggies sophomore was getting paid to sign merchandise, an action illegal in the bylaws of the NCAA.
By receiving only a half-game suspension in a Week 1 matchup against Rice, the sophomore quarterback has avoided serious trouble in a case that looked convincingly against him with plenty of circumstantial evidence.
Whether he made money signing the autographs or not, Johnny Football undeniably put himself in a bad situation. The NCAA bylaw being enforced (188.8.131.52, per ESPN) refers to the knowledge that while he didn’t get paid firsthand for the autographs, he didn’t actively try to stop the sale of his signature.
Manziel must consider this punishment as a free pass and learn from his mistakes. Sure, missing the first half of a game will be tough on the young, competitive defending Heisman Trophy winner come game day, but it could have been so much worse, and he must understand that.
Texas A&M should also be thankful. Not only did the university avoid the drama that surrounds a lengthy NCAA investigation, but losing its star quarterback for just the first half of the first game should also be viewed as a blessing from the sport’s governing body.
The school avoided any ramifications from this ordeal by acting fast and doing its best to prove this was an isolated incident of ignorance to the bylaws.
Of all parties involved, Texas A&M comes out of this with the best perception from the public.
While Manziel and the Aggies avoided serious ramifications, the NCAA has opened Pandora’s box with its lackluster decision to levy such an odd punishment. This decision makes the NCAA look incredibly weak and desperate to exercise its power.
After the NCAA vowed to come down harder on those that commit infractions, it showed no grit or power with the investigation and subsequent suspension of Manziel.
Instead of hiding behind a ridiculous rule buried deep in the bylaws, the NCAA should have done more investigating to get the deeper truth or shouldn’t have punished the sophomore at all.
Suspending Manziel for the first half of Texas A&M’s Week 1 matchup is the NCAA’s way of proving to itself that it is in control of the situation. Everyone else looking at the sport understands that this is just another reason the governing body of college sports is a joke.