In light of all of the hoopla surrounding Texas A&M superstar Johnny Manziel and whether or not he was compensated for autographs – potentially in the thousands of dollars – another 2013 Heisman hopeful has taken proactive measures. The USC athletic department has officially begun the process of issuing cease-and-desist letters to those who may be inclined to sell the autographs of wide receiver Marqise Lee.
USC Vice President of Athletic Compliance Dave Roberts, coach Lane Kiffin and Lee himself have all issued statements regarding any and all autographs in question.
First, Roberts, seeing as he is the man in charge of making sure the Trojans’ large pool of student-athletes are all eligible for the 2013 season.
“USC recently received an inquiry that floated Marqise Lee’s name and the autograph signing situation in Miami that has been in the news lately.
“As is USC’s policy, USC immediately and diligently investigated the inquiry. Last January, Marqise and other college football award winners were in Miami to be honored by the Orange Bowl Committee at the BCS Championship Game. While there, Lee signed several photographs, some that were personalized, for an individual who represented himself as a fan and collector. Some of those photos have since been offered for sale online.
“USC has determined there was no NCAA infraction and is in the process of sending a cease-and-desist letter to the individual demanding that he stop selling any photos signed by Lee.”
Kiffin released a succinct statement on the matter as well. Generally speaking, Kiffin has taken flak from the press and fans for being perceived to be relatively lax with the NCAA’s ethical code of conduct. In this case, however, he seems to have nipped whatever problem there may be in the bud.
“Once we were informed of a potential issue, as we always do, we had our compliance staff thoroughly research the matter. I’m completely confident in their report.”
Finally, Lee’s statement includes a very important fact: Whereas the issue with Manziel is the fact that he allegedly asked an autograph broker for cash, Lee states that whatever he signed was for free.
“I believed that the individual who asked me to sign the photos was a fan and collector. I did not ask to be paid, I was not offered anything, I did not get anything and I did not authorize my autographs to be sold.
“I will make no further comments regarding this statement or anything related to it.”
We do not have enough information to provide any conjecture at this time. It is an interesting move on the part of the compliance office.
Obviously, the major question is simple: Who is the person who procured the Lee autographs, and is it the same person or company that allegedly paid Manziel?