With the scandal of prominent college football players selling autographs dominating the headlines, the USC Trojans are trying to make sure that they avoid getting caught up in the pending NCAA investigation. Just one year removed from heavy sanctions, the Trojans did their due diligence when autographed pictures of Marqise Lee popped up for sale online. After investigating the origins of the pictures, USC has cleared Lee of any wrongdoing.
According to the school’s compliance office, the star wide receiver did not receive any payment for the autographs and violated no rules. Last January, according the investigation, while Lee and other college football award winners were in Miami to be honored by the Orange Bowl Committee during the BCS Championship Game, Lee signed several photographs, some of which he personalized. The pictures were signed for an individual who presented himself to Lee as a fan and collector.
Lee, the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner, said that he though the man who asked for his autograph was just a fan and didn’t think he would be selling the memorabilia for profit. He admits to signing the pictures, but says he never asked for payment, wasn’t offered any payment and did not authorize the autographs to be sold, according to a statement released by Lee.
USC found Lee’s account of things credible and have cleared him of wrongdoing while sending a cease-and-desist letter to the person selling Lee’s autographs. The Trojans hope that their investigation into the matter will be enough for the NCAA and keep another investigation from getting opened on the program over the matter. Will it be enough to keep the judgmental eye of college football’s governing body out of USC’s locker room?