Instant analysis: Manziel suspended; NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1

johnnydaveYes, that Johnny Manziel. ESPN confirmed that the NCAA and Texas A&M agreed that the defending Heisman Trophy winner will be suspended for the first half of the Aggies’ season-opener against Rice. Although the joint statement said that there was “no evidence that Manziel received payment for signing autographs,” Manziel nevertheless faces punishment because he violated NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1. That rule prohibits student-athletes from permitting others to use the student-athletes’ names or likenesses for commercial purposes. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t subscribe to TexAgs.com disagrees that Manziel violated that rule.

In full, bylaw 12.5.2.1 provides:

After becoming a student-athlete, an individual shall not be eligible for participation in intercollegiate athletics if the individual:

(a) Accepts any remuneration for or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind; or

(b) Receives remuneration for endorsing a commercial product or service through the individual’s use of such product or service.

Because the NCAA has no evidence that Manziel actually received money for the thousands of autographs he signed for a few professional memorabilia dealers, it’s clear he’s being punished under the portion of subsection (a) that declares ineligible a student-athlete who “permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.”

The problem for the NCAA is that every student-athlete is in violation of bylaw 12.5.2.1 simply by willingly participating in college athletics. Thanks to the various licensing agreements of the NCAA and colleges, to say nothing of tickets to games, matches, and meets, every student-athlete “permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service” simply by being a student-athlete competing in NCAA-sanctioned athletic events.

At the very least, the NCAA is guilty of selective enforcement in this instance by singling out Manziel for his violation of bylaw 12.5.2.1 when every other student-athlete also is in violation of the rule. The NCAA has three obvious options at this point: 1) lift the arbitrary and capricious Manziel suspension; 2) dissolve itself; or 3) suspend every student-athlete for the first half of the Texas A&M-Rice game.

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6 thoughts on “Instant analysis: Manziel suspended; NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1

  1. After a closer review of what happened, I now understand that it’s A&M that’s punishing Manziel for an unspecified, “inadvertent violation regarding the signing of certain autographs,” and that the NCAA “accepted” A&M’s punishment. Still, ESPN’s “source” identifies specific bylaws at issue:

    None of this affects what I wrote above about the general applicability of bylaw 12.5.2.1.

  2. This is dumb, you are dumb. NCAA bylaws are often byzantine and poorly constructed, leading to things like the ex-Marine at MTSU being potentially ineligible for playing glorified pickup games on military bases that happened to keep stats, but this is just poor reasoning. The NCAA doesn’t have a bylaw that accidentally makes every player ineligible by virtue of existance. Maybe take some time on your analysis next time.

    • Hey thanks for stopping by. I’ll say first that if you aren’t tracking that this is at least a little bit tongue-in-cheek, then you probably need to lighten up a bit.

      Second, I agree with you that “NCAA bylaws are often byzantine and poorly constructed, leading to things like the ex-Marine at MTSU being potentially ineligible for playing glorified pickup games on military bases that happened to keep stats.” Go Blue Raiders!

      Third, to play out the point a bit, is it poor reasoning by me, or poor reasoning by the NCAA that bylaw 12.5.2.1 exists and is worded as it is? Isn’t it true that the NCAA and its member schools use the athletes names and pictures “to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service,” namely merchandise, tickets to competitions, and a myriad of other “commercial product[s] or service[s]”?

      Fourth, as the title of the post indicates and my first comment clarifies, I expressly admit taking very little time on my “analysis,” which may or may not be a testament to how obvious it is that the rule, by its terms, could apply in such an unintended manner.

      Anyway, I don’t see how having some fun with a “byzantine and poorly constructed” NCAA bylaw is “dumb” or makes me dumb, but I hope you’ll stick around and check out more of what we have going on here.

    • Thanks for dropping by. I agree that what happened in Dez Bryant’s case was wrong, but I don’t think it’s as analogous to the Manziel situation as a lot of people, including Bryant, seem to think. Cam Newton’s a closer case than Bryant, and the outcome for Cam mirrors the outcome for Manziel.

  3. Pingback: Happy Holidays from ALDLAND | ALDLAND

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