Aug 12, 2013 12:46 PM EDT
Louisville Cardinals Will Not Allow Players to Sign Autographs at 'Fan Day'
"I would like to personally apologize to our outstanding fans," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said in a statement. "However, because of the national problem of autographed items appearing for sale on eBay and other websites, we have made a proactive decision to hold an open practice for the fans and forgo an autograph session."
The team made the announcement in lieu of a "national problem" surrounding college football players and their autographs appearing for sale on the Internet.
The NCAA is currently investigating an instance from January, during the BCS National Championship game, in which Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel may or may not have been paid for his signature on various items. Since that news broke, many schools, including Louisville have looked into their own players' autographs appearing online.
University of South Carolina said they found defensive end Jadeveon Clowney's autograph on eBay, but found no wrongdoing on his part. Louisville has also looked into quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and his autograph on memorabilia for sale and also found nothing wrong.
"We have spoken with Teddy Bridgewater and we are comfortable that no NCAA violations have taken place," Louisville said in a statement last week.
Still, Strong does not want to take any chances with his players' eligibility for the upcoming season.
"We have monitored the situation closely, and we decided to protect the eligibility of our players and operate under the principle that it not permissible to accept any type of compensation for their autograph or the sale of memorabilia," Strong said. "I know this will disappoint a lot of our fans, especially the young children who look up to our players, but I strongly feel this is the best decision for our football program."
Instead of an autograph session, the team will hold an additional open practice for fans to attend.
Players can sign their autographs for fans and not be penalized, but if the player accepts anything in return, he can face harsh penalties. According to an anonymous source who did not witness an exchange of money, Manziel accepted a five-figure flat fee for his signature on hundreds of Texas A&M memorabilia items.
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