Good Bull Hunting, SB Nation’s Texas A&M blog, did some digging through open records requests and came up empty looking for evidence of a formal investigation by the NCAA into Johnny Manziel:
[R]eading through their response to me, we can conclude that as of Aug 5, there has be no NOI [Notice of Inquiry] sent to Texas A&M in regard to this issue. If there was a formal investigation, it began after Aug 5, which goes against what ESPN told us.
I do not know enough about NCAA investigative procedures to say how they differentiate between a “formal” and “informal” investigation. Perhaps every single tip is logged, given a case number, and closed out, even if the reason for closing the case was “tinfoil hat worn by tipster interfered with phone reception, no useful information obtained”.
What I do know is what type of notice the enforcement staff is required to give an institution when conducting an investigation. This is from Bylaw 19.5.3, which covers notices of inquiry to institutions:
Before the enforcement staff conducts an inquiry on an institution’s campus, the enforcement staff shall notify the institution’s president or chancellor of the inquiry, either orally or in writing.
The lack of records relating to an investigation into Manziel has two giant caveats. If prior to August 5, the investigation had not reached the point where the enforcement staff needed to conduct interviews or review records on the Texas A&M campus, no notice is required. And even if notice was required or given, that notice could be oral, simply a phone call to the president or chancellor.
We can debate the level of formality of the NCAA’s investigation into Manziel’s possible memorabilia dealings prior to August 5, but even the lack of a notice of inquiry tracks with what ESPN has been reporting. At the time of the initial report, the investigator in the case had been trying to get in touch with memorabilia dealers. If that was the extent of the investigation, it could be “formal” but still not require notice to Texas A&M.