USC said Tuesday that receiver Marqise Lee did not break NCAA rules last January when he signed autographs in Florida that have been offered for sale.
Lee, who won the Biletnikoff Award, attended the Bowl Championship Series title game, where the Orange Bowl Committee honored national award winners. The NCAA reportedly is investigating whether Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner, received payment for autographs he signed while in Miami.
Dave Roberts, USC’s vice president for athletic compliance, said in a statement that the university had “received an inquiry that floated Marqise Lee’s name and the autograph signing situation in Miami that has been in the news lately.”
Lee signed several photographs for a person who said he was a fan and collector. Roberts said some of those photos have since been offered for sale online.
Roberts said USC had investigated and determined no NCAA rule had been broken. He added that USC was “in the process of sending a cease-and-desist letter to the individual demanding that he stop selling any photos signed by Lee.”
Lee said in a statement that he “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.”
Lee declined to comment further about the situation after practice.
Autograph-seekers were a regular part of the USC landscape during former coach Pete Carroll‘s successful run that produced three Heisman Trophy winners, two national championships and seven consecutive conference titles.
Coach Lane Kiffin said that USC was in “constant communication” with players about autographs and that they are encouraged to sign when requested.
“They remember when they were little kids,” Kiffin said. “Unfortunately, we can’t necessarily control where those go, and that’s always been the case.
“You kind of see things out of the corner of your eye, sometimes, where parents and adults send little kids up for autographs.
“So we just kind of always side on the side of being nice.”
Quarterback Max Wittek had two passes intercepted…. Left tackle Aundrey Walker, who was unable to finish practice Monday, did not work out and is day to day, Kiffin said. Redshirt freshman Chad Wheeler took most of the snaps at left tackle…. Linebacker Hayes Pullard returned to practice…. Kiffin praised cornerback Devian Shelton, a redshirt freshman from Inglewood High. “He does have good length and good speed and he’s breaking on the ball very well,” Kiffin said…. USC is scheduled to practice in full pads Wednesday and scrimmage Thursday.