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Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Buckeyes, Gamecocks: No violations

ESPN.com news services

Ohio State, South Carolina and Louisville say they have found no wrongdoing after questions surfaced surrounding signed memorabilia items of Buckeyes quarterback Braxton MillerGamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater that have appeared for sale online.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Wednesday the university talked to Miller after someone offered autographs and signed memorabilia for sale without the junior's knowledge.

Ohio State, which is on NCAA probation because of a memorabilia scandal two years ago, first heard Miller's name mentioned with online sales of signed items Sunday. Smith said the university spoke with Miller after that.

"We talked to Braxton, the whole thing, and there's nothing there," Smith said.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, also speaking Wednesday, said the Gamecocks had decided to close football practices to the public to stem the distraction of "the autograph people" but that he felt assured Clowney had not been paid for his signature.

"I really believe Jadeveon has never accepted anything for signing an autograph," Spurrier said.

Louisville released a statement saying it had spoken with Bridgewater after finding autographed items for sale online and was "comfortable that no violation has occurred."

The scrutiny surrounding the autographed items comes in the wake of ESPN's report that the NCAA is investigating whether Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M was paid for signing hundreds of autographs in January.

On Tuesday, an East Coast autograph broker told ESPN that Manziel was paid $7,500 for signing about 300 mini- and full-sized helmets in January while he was attending a charity event. The broker played video for ESPN that showed Manziel signing helmets and footballs in a hotel room. The video does not show Manziel accepting money, but he is heard saying "You never did a signing with me" and that if the broker were to tell anyone, he would refuse to deal with him again.

Despite South Carolina's confidence in Clowney, Spurrier said the effect of the autograph seekers' presence at practice was too much to overlook.

"So we closed it up and got better security, and the last two nights have been very nice," Spurrier said in an interview on ESPN's "SportsCenter."

"He's such a nice guy; Marcus Lattimore was the same way," Spurrier said of Clowney and the former Gamecocks running back now with the San Francisco 49ers. "They signed almost everything. Some guy will say my kid has a mom [that] has cancer. You get all kinds of stories to get them to sign, and they hate to say no. And I've usually told both of them, 'Tell them Coach Spurrier says they can't sign. It's against the rules.' But the little kids and whatever -- they're going to sign."

South Carolina associate athletic director Chris Rogers said the Gamecocks determined there have been no violations with payments for signed items.

"We have investigated things that have been on eBay with him and student-athletes before," Roger told The State newspaper, referring to Clowney. "In the situations I can say we looked into, there was no further for us to go."

Also Tuesday, the USC Trojans said in a news release that it had issued a cease-and-desist letter to sellers of items with star receiver Marqise Lee's signature on them and that the school had determined he had not committed an NCAA violation.

Ohio State had looked into whether Miller may have profited from the sale of items he had signed at a Big Ten preseason kickoff luncheon. But Smith said there was no issue with Miller and the autographs.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who was at Ohio State's practice Wednesday, declined to talk about the Manziel situation in detail because he said he didn't have all the facts.

"People and individuals, young people and older people, have to conform their conduct because more and more is public," Delany said. "Really, we're all human beings who make mistakes. I try not to judge because, for the most part, as you know, we don't have the facts. What we have is a little bit of information on a lot of situations that's a half-inch deep and four miles wide."

Smith said he spoke with Delany about the autograph-signing session, which lasted an hour or so, at the preseason luncheon.

"I was telling the commissioner that's one of the things we have to think about," Smith said. "Most of that stuff [online] was from there. So if you get something signed by Braxton, you throw it up and sell it. [But] there's no connection."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.