ESPN reports Manziel signed autographs for broker before Bama gamePosted: Updated:
A prominent autograph broker on eBay told ESPN that last season he was approached by Johnny Manziel's personal assistant and friend, Nate Fitch, who told him that Manziel would no longer sign autographs without compensation, according to ESPN's Joe Schad.
This latest allegation comes after ESPN's Outside the Lines reported that Manziel is under NCAA investigation for allegedly signing autographs for money last January.
In a Monday news conference, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said he found out about the allegations Sunday and that Manziel would practice and participate in normal team activities.
The broker, who is based in the Southeast, spoke to ESPN anonymously and said that Manziel signed more than 250 items for him without compensation.
Manziel signed about 50 items in his hotel room the night before the Texas A&M game with Alabama in Tuscaloosa, then signed about 200 more items after that, according to the ESPN story. The publication also claims that the broker showed Schad a photograph of Manziel signing items in what he said was the Heisman winner's hotel room.
The broker further claimed that Fitch, who is a friend of Manziel and serves as a personal assistant, said that he could provide other current standout college athletes who he would also have to pay to have them sign items.
The broker said he stopped using what is called a "proof pic" - a photo of the signings used for authentication - after an attorney representing Manziel contacted ebay and the broker spoke to the attorney. The broker said an authenticating agency called JSA was paid $7 each to verify the autographs.
This information comes one day after the report that the NCAA is investigating whether Manziel was paid for signing autographs in January. ESPN's Outside the Lines reported that a south Florida broker paid Manziel a flat, five-figure fee to sign hundreds of items before and after the BCS Championship Game in Miami.
Three unnamed sources told ESPN that Manziel signed mini helmets, footballs, photos and other items for a Florida autograph broker called Drew Tierman. Two of the sources told ESPN that Tierman approached Manziel when he landed at the Fort Lauderdale airport to attend the game.
Manziel is being investigated by the NCAA, which could declare him ineligible if he is found in violation of a bylaw that prohibits athletes room accepting money for promoting or advertising sale of a product or service. Manziel attended the BCS game as part of a group of athletes who were honored for winning national awards.
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