In talking to USA Today, A&M associate athletic director Jason Cook told the paper that it was an "inadvertant violation" of NCAA rules and that the "NCAA found no evidence Manziel received monetary reward in exchange for autographs." The suspension, which both the NCAA and Texas A&M agreed on, ends the NCAA's investigation into Manziel.
“Texas A&M University would like to thank the NCAA staff, not only for its fairness and professionalism throughout this process, but also for the expediency of its actions," said Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman in a statement. "Texas A&M is a proud member of the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference and, as such, we will continue to abide by the rules governing the association and the conference. Texas A&M is committed to competing with integrity and sportsmanship, and we will continue to ensure strict compliance guidelines for our student-athletes, coaches and supporters.”
This all comes after Manziel spent over five hours meeting with NCAA investigators on Sunday and denied the allegations that he ever took money for signing autographs. The NCAA's inquiry was focused on Manziel's financial records.
And while the NCAA could not find any evidence that Manziel accepted money for autographs, his half-game suspension is for violating NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 which reads as follows:
Title:188.8.131.52 - Advertisements and Promotions After Becoming a Student-Athlete.
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.
Which is a secondary violation far less severe than if the NCAA had evidence of Manziel accepting money for autographs.
“Student-athletes are often asked for autographs from fans, but unfortunately, some individuals' sole motivation in seeking an autograph is for resale," said NCAA Vice President of Academic and Membership Affairs Kevin Lennon. "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.”
Aside from the suspension, part of Manziel's punishment will include addressing his teammates about the situation.