USC: Marqise Lee not linked to Manziel scandal

LOS ANGELES — In light of a recent report that reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel allegedly received $7,500 for signing autographs at the Walter Camp Football Foundation in New Haven, Conn., USC on Tuesday released a statement making certain there was no wrongdoing in a potential link to the situation involving wide receiver Marqise Lee.

The USC star receiver was in South Florida during the time of the BCS Championship Game last January and at the same event as Manziel.

Lee signed autographs but did not receive compensation for doing so, USC says.

However, the personalized memorabilia Lee signed has surfaced for sale on the Internet.

“USC has determined there was no NCAA infraction and is in the process of sending a cease-and-desist letter to the individual, demanding that he stop selling any photos signed by Lee,” said USC vice president of athletic compliance Dave Roberts in a statement.

Added Lee, in a statement: “I believed that the individual who asked me to sign the photos was a fan and collector. I did not ask to be paid, I was not offered anything, I did not get anything and I did not authorize my autographs to be sold.”

There is nothing illegal in the eyes of the NCAA about signing autographs, and USC head coach Lane Kiffin says the staff has always encouraged players to sign autographs whenever they can.

“Unfortunately, we can’t necessarily control where those (autographs) go, and that’s always been the case,” Kiffin said. “We just kind of always side on the side of being nice.”

The school released the statements regarding the potential link to Lee during the Trojans fourth practice of fall camp on Tuesday.

Lee was on the practice field for the Trojans on Tuesday as they prepare for their Aug. 29 season opener at Hawaii. He did not elaborate further on the autographs signed in South Florida but was in good spirits, clearly not allowing the day’s events to affect him.

“I think I had a good practice today huh?” Lee said with a smile. “I had a nice couple of catches. I did pretty good.”