Texas A&M has retained the legal counsel of Lightfoot, Franklin and White, Aggies senior associate athletics director Jason Cook confirmed and USA Today first reported.
Lightfoot also represented Auburn in the Cam Newton investigation in 2010. Newton never missed a game at Auburn despite allegations that his father, Cecil, shopped his son's services to Mississippi State for a reported $100,000 to $180,000 out of junior college.
Despite the parallel of two embattled Heisman winners in Newton and Manziel, their cases are different in nature and should be treated as such. Lead attorney Gene Marsh is well-respected as a former NCAA Committee on Infractions chair who also handled litigation on the Ohio State tattoo scandal in 2010-11. This is a sound move by A&M. Hiring effective outside counsel is costly but crucial to objectively navigating a complex matter.
A&M faces a difficult decision as its opener approaches. Schools can declare players ineligible and then later seek reinstatement, but probably not until it comes time to play games. Typically, a school doesn't have to make a decision on eligibility until then. Texas A&M opens against Rice on Aug. 31.