South Carolina: No violation with Clowney autographs

After finding Jadeveon Clowney’s signature making its round on eBay, a look by South Carolina’s compliance department found no evidence of wrongdoing, the school announced on Wednesday.

“We have investigated things that have been on eBay with him and student-athletes before,” associate athletics director Chris Rogers told The State. “In the situations I can say we looked into, there was no further for us to go, and we determined there was no violation.”

The star defensive end’s signature — advertised as authentic — on the online consumer-to-consumer site brought about questions in light of the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into star Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s alleged compensation for signing sessions with memorabilia brokers. Southern California receiver Marqise Lee, last season’s Biletnikoff Award winner, also recently denied receiving impermissible benefits for his autograph.

EBay also offers signed items and certificates of authenticity for many other popular college athletes, including Heisman favorites Aaron Murray (Georgia), AJ McCarron (Alabama), Tajh Boyd (Clemson), Braxton Miller (Ohio State) and Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville).

NCAA rules prohibit college athletes from profiting off their name and image.

Players are allowed to sign items, including photos and memorabilia, as long as there is no compensation.

Clowney, projected to be the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL draft, was linked to the Manziel-related headlines following reports noting the substantial volume of items bearing his signature appearing on eBay. Of course, as arguably the most popular player in college football, seeing autograph-seekers at Clowney’s public appearances is not exactly an uncommon sight. As Josh Kendall notes, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier closed team practices on Sunday in part to avoid the distraction of autograph-seekers hounding players, notably Clowney.

“It’s a difficult issue to get your arms around,” Rogers said.

An item of immediate interest was a photograph of Clowney signing another photo in what appears to be a hotel room — a similar setting that appears in the Manziel allegations.

“I have seen pictures of him in a hotel signing stuff before,” Rogers said. “We are monitoring eBay regularly so any of those sorts of things that come, whether it’s autographed memorabilia, pictures of a student-athlete, whatever it might be, basically what we are trying to ascertain is, ‘Is there credible enough information for us to investigate further?’ If you look up Jadeveon Clowney there are hundreds and hundreds of hits. We are trying to ascertain which of those are worth pursuing and which are not.”