Sumlin Not On The Hook For Manziel Autographs

One question I've received a few times since the story broke about Johnny Manziel allegedly signing autographs for money is whether this could impact Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. Specifically, does the new head coach responsibility bylaw mean Sumlin could be facing his own penalties if his star quarterback is found to be guilty of a violation? Here is the full text of Bylaw, "Responsibility of Head Coach"

An institution's head coach is presumed to be responsible for the actions of all assistant coaches and administrators who report, directly or indirectly, to the head coach. An institution's head coach shall promote an atmosphere of compliance within his or her program and shall monitor the activities of all assistant coaches and administrators involved with the program who report, directly or indirectly, to the coach.

The concept of head coach responsibility is about the head coach being responsible for violations committed by his staff, not his student-athletes. I guess in theory, a student-athlete could fall under this bylaw, if the NCAA determined the athlete was functioning as a staff member (say the athlete was recruiting for the team and the coach knew about it). But in terms of garden-variety amateurism violations, the coach would not be on the hook.

A good example of the difference is the Reggie Bush/USC case. Then-head coach Pete Carroll was not charged with a failure to monitor or failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program. Under the new bylaw, he would have been presumed responsible for the actions of then-assistant coach Todd McNair. But he would not be presumed responsible for the benefits Reggie Bush received from the two would-be agents.

3 Responses to “Sumlin Not On The Hook For Manziel Autographs”

  1. Anonymous

    Ah, I like the Reggie Bush/USC example. Let’s actually play those facts out and, assuming the NCAA would follow precedent as you seem to suggest (which the rest of us know is not true), let’s see how safe Sumlin really is.

    In the RB case, the NCAA never could prove any wrongdoing on the part of Todd McNair of USC for that matter. In fact, the NCAA is likely to lose a legal case (in front of real judges) or settle with Todd McNair on the basis that the NCAA willfully disregarded the truth. But lets give the NCAA the benefit of the doubt for argument’s sake. The NCAA found that USC “should have known” of Reggie Bush’s wrongdoings. This is NOT a finding of any wrongdoing, rather, it was a decision based on the made up standard of “high profile athletes” require a higher level of compliance oversight.

    Now, let’s square this with the current Manziel case. Is Manziel a “high profile” athlete? Check. Does he then require a higher degree of compliance oversight by A&M under the made up Paul Dee standard? Check. Thus, if there were any indications of possible wrongdoing by Manziel, which would under the USC precedent require A&M to diligently review Manziel’s financial situation and that of his family and the fact that there were lots of these autographed items floating around on Ebay. If any of this is true, then clearly, A&M “should have known” of the wrongdoing of its most high profile athlete probably in the history of the school and the school failed to promptly report the wrongdoings. In which case, Sumlin could be held accountable.

    Now, we all know this is a ridiculous result, but it just shows how ridiculous the USC case was, and how that’s not a good analogy for you if you want to suggest Sumlin is safe. Remember, USC was found guilty of a made up standard of “should have known,” which obviously is why the NCAA immediately came out and disavowed any obligation on its part to follow precedent. The USC case was a one-time event intended to destroy a powerful west-coast school. It was driven by, as Chris Dodds observes, greed and envy and a desire to harm USC’s ability to recruit nationally as it was making inroads into Florida and other coveted SEC country. Nothing more; nothing less. The decision was driven by greed.

    And for Sumlin’s and A&M’s sake, they better hope the NCAA does not look to the USC case as precedent.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed. The NCAA states in its report that it was even thinking about implementing a TV ban…but that would have hurt Notre Dame, and with one of the COI members being a ND administrator, no way that’d let that go. Now, same facts any other school, loss of three scholies over three years, no bowl bans. The NCAA is comedy of the highest order – but we’ll see how much laughing the NCAA does when the records are released in the McNair trial. Courts generally don’t allow the First Amendment to be trumped by some private organization, whose best argument is that it will hurt the investigative process in the future…

      But I agree with you, the unchecked NCAA could have taken even more ridiculous measures beyond what Infante has himself acknowledge as being unprecedented and inconsistent with NCAA penalties before and after the USC ruling based on the facts.

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