Florida State director of athletics Stan Wilcox issued a statement Friday in light of speculation over whether quarterback Jameis Winston signed autographs for money.
The statement says Florida State's compliance staff is reviewing reported "issues" connected to signed items attributed to Winston, but that "At this time we have no information indicating that he accepted payment for items reported to bear his signature, thereby compromising his athletics eligibility."
ESPN.com reported this week that more than 2,000 Winston signatures have been authenticated on the James Spence Authentication website. "The fact that items appear on an Internet site bearing the signature of a student-athlete does not singularly determine a violation of NCAA rules," the statement reads.
The ordering of autographed items from Winston on the company's website has raised speculation. From ESPN.com:
JSA authenticates items as it receives them and attaches the serial numbers in sequential order. JSA authenticated 432 signed jersey numbers with serial numbers J62424 through J62659 and serial numbers J72790 through J72992. JSA authenticated 117 16-by-20 photos (J70005 through J70121), 77 of the same Florida State logo footballs (J65886 through J65962), 73 white jerseys (J61437 through J61509) and 68 of the same signed mini helmets with serial numbers J66829 through J66896. The company also authenticated 55 jerseys (J66947 through J67001), 39 11-by-14 photos (J66026 through J66064), 20 signed pylons (J70609 through J70628), 18 of the same footballs (J66919 through J66936) and 11 signed Rawlings baseballs (J66898 through J66911).
"The items that I've seen signed by Todd Gurley and Jameis Winston, which have been authenticated by JSA, look like they came from an autograph signing," said Martin Buckley, co-owner of Palm Beach Autographs in Florida, which has done signings with Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow, Herschel Walker and Charlie Ward, among others. "This is based on the items themselves being similar, the quantities of those items, the consistency of signature as well as similar spots in which they signed."
ESPN.com also reported that after Saturday's win over Syracuse, Winston responded no to the question from Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher of whether Winston signed autographs for pay. Fisher also discussed Winston's signatures earlier this week, saying Winston has "never taken a dime for anything," according to USA Today Sports.
Winston reportedly received notice in a letter last week that he faces a student conduct hearing over allegations that he sexually assaulted a fellow Florida State student in December 2012. Winston's attorney said Friday that his client met the first deadline of the disciplinary process. Winston said he expects to play in Saturday's game against Notre Dame and Fisher indicated he is not concerned about the quarterback's status.
Winston was suspended for the Seminoles' Sept. 20 game against Clemson after he shouted an obscene phrase on campus. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner was also suspended from the Florida State baseball team after he was cited in April for shoplifting crab legs from a Publix supermarket.
Over five games this season, Winston has passed for 1,605 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Florida State (6-0) is ranked second in the latest AP Poll.
- Chris Johnson