There’s a whole lot we don’t know about the investigation into possible NCAA violations committed by Georgia running back Todd Gurley.
But some strong clues about the investigation, which prompted Georgia to suspend the Heisman Trophy frontrunner indefinitely on Thursday, can be found on Reddit, where an unidentified memorabilia dealer held a forum in March discussing his dealings with college players.
The dealer wrote in a September 27 Reddit post that an unnamed by high-profile player would likely be getting busted for profiting off of memorabilia sales.
The dealer, who has since deleted his Reddit account, referenced an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) forum he had conducted in March in which he talked about his dealings with an unnamed player, with strong hints that the player was Gurley.
The dealer pointed out that there’s an enormous amount of Gurley memorabilia for sale on E-Bay — an amount that, as the Big Lead points out, is nearly four times the amount of memorabilia signed by Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariotta.
Here’s how the Reddit College Football Twitter account explained the events leading up to Gurley’s suspension:
In the March 27 thread, a Redditer asked the dealer how common it was for players to agree to sell their memorabilia and whether it was common for players to reject offers from dealers. The dealer answered that players commonly turn down requests for money and named Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow and former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray — Gurley’s former teammate — as players who played by the rules.
It’s not illegal for college players to sign autographs, but it is illegal for them to profit off of them — an issue that prompted an investigation into a ton of autographs that Johnny Manziel signed at a New Haven, Connecticut hotel before the start of the 2013 season.
Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples reported Thursday that an unidentified dealer reported to Georgia’s compliance office this week that he paid Gurley $400 to sign 80 pieces of memorabilia on UGA’s campus last spring. Staples reported that the dealer claimed to have a photo and video of Gurley signing the items, but that neither the photo nor the video show money exchanging hands.
A check of the James Spence Authentication database revealed 90 consecutively numbered pieces of Gurley-signed memorabilia (J19709-J19799), as well as another lot of 20 consecutively numbered pieces (H85318-H85338) of Gurley-signed memorabilia. JSA is one of the leading autograph authentication services. Consecutive authentication numbers suggest all the items were submitted at once following a large-scale signing.
TMZ also reported Thursday that an unidentified person was trying to shop video and photos of Gurley signing memorabilia. It’s not clear whether the person referenced in the TMZ report and the person referenced in the SI report are the same person.