CU ready for big Fan Day crowd; elsewhere issues cloud future of popular event

While Tigers' staff manages logistics, Louisville eliminates autograph session

Clemson Football Fan Appreciation Day - Tajh Boyd

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson Football Fan Appreciation Day - Tajh Boyd

Fan day isn't what it used to be.

One gate for offense. Another for defense. Still another for the head coach.

Single-file lines, please; one autograph per fan; photos of players allowed, but no photos WITH players.

In dealing with the logistics associated with a throng of excited fans, eager for a moment of contact with their favorite Tigers, Clemson has set up guidelines to assure that Sunday's annual spectacle proceeds in an orderly fashion, with opportunity for as many fans as possible to participate.

The various Death Valley gates will open at 2:30 p.m., and the event will end at 5 p.m.

Clemson's news release on the event notes that "lines will be monitored by event staff and will be cut off at appropriate times. It is important for fans to realize that it is very difficult to get all of their favorite players' autographs in the 2.5-hour limit."

The weather forecast currently calls for overcast skies and cool temperatures on Sunday, with highs only in the low 70s. And, of course, there's a good chance of rain.

While Clemson seems to have the logistics covered, some other schools are dealing with the thornier issue of autographs.

Future ACC member Louisville has gone so far as to ban autographs for its Fan Day, instead providing an open practice opportunity for spectators.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that 'Amid increased scrutiny over student-athlete autograph sales and an NCAA investigation into Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the University of Louisville’s football program will forgo signings at its fan day this year in favor of an extra practice open to the public.'

“I would like to personally apologize to our outstanding fans,” said coach Charlie Strong in a statement released by the school. “However, because of the national problem of autographed items appearing for sale on eBay and other websites, we have made a proactive decision to hold an open practice for the fans and forgo an autograph session.

“We have monitored the situation closely, and we decided to protect the eligibility of our players and operate under the principle that it not permissible to accept any type of compensation for their autograph or the sale of memorabilia. I know this will disappoint a lot of our fans, especially the young children who look up to our players, but I strongly feel this is the best decision for our football program.”

The Courier-Journal said that about a dozen helmets and footballs purportedly signed by Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater were listed for $249.95 each on eBay last week. Bridgewater told reporters at U of L’s football media day last week that he wasn’t aware his signatures were being sold online, and he’s never been offered money to sign items, and that all of his signings have been in public events, after games, or during youth camps.

Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, like Bridgewater a 2013 Heisman hopeful, said last week that he's frequently been offered money to sign items.

“Guys come up to you and offer money to sign things," Watkins told the Naples Daily News, his hometown newspaper. "That’s the reality of what happens to college athletes, especially ones that play a big part in their program.”

A signed Watkins No. 2 Clemson jersey was recently listed on eBay for $399. By NCAA rules, the player is not allowed to receive any compensation.

Watkins told the Naples Daily News that he's been instructed only to sign autographs addressed to specific people to try to cut down on the selling of memorabilia.

“I have to ask who (the item) is going to and what names to write on it,” Watkins said. “If it’s not going to somebody it’s definitely going on eBay.

“We get the same guys coming up to us. We know all those guys. We see them every week. They come from Tennessee, Michigan, offering money. You have to realize you don’t want to risk your future for a couple dollars.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says it's just a part of life now.

"We educate them on that," Swinney said. "I sign stuff all the time. I’m sure there’s eBay things that I don’t know about, or with a player. You want your players to be engaged. You want your players to be approachable. Especially at Clemson, this is a grassroots type of program.

"You’d hate to see those type of things go away because people abuse (autographs). One of the things I always tell the players: ‘Who’s it to?’ You have to be vigilant and use good judgment.”

Clemson's 2013 Fan Day

- Water and soft drinks will be provided free of charge to attendees, while concessions and novelties will also be available for purchase. In addition, programs from the 2012 season will be available for purchase.

- T-shirts will be available for the first 1,000 fans 12 years of age or younger. Media guides and football game tickets will be on sale at the athletic ticket office from 1:30-3:30 p.m., and the IPTAY office will be open for the same hours.

- Due to the large turnout expected, there will be a one autograph per player limit. Fans may take photos of players, but no photos will be permitted with players.

- Clemson players will be positioned on the concourse level throughout the stadium:

· Enter Gate 1 for the offensive players. There will be a single continuous line that will include all offensive players. Fans will then exit through Gate 13.

· Enter Gate 9 for the defensive players. There will be a single continuous line that will include all defensive players. Fans will then exit through Gate 5.

· Enter Gate 11 for Coach Dabo Swinney, who will be in the West Endzone. There will be a single continuous line that will include Coach Swinney and the mascots. Fans will then exit back through Gate 11.

· Fans will be permitted to enter the Gate adjacent to the Rock to take photos of the Rock, and must exit back out of that same gate.

© 2013 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 2

rsb8931#286014 writes:

This autograph issue with Manziel is different than a player signing an autograph for someone and then that someone sells it on ebay. As long as the player is not receiving money for his autograph then it's ok. It doesn't matter what someone does with a jersey a football player puts his name on. If that player got paid for putting his name on the jersey is where the problem begins. This is all a bunch of nonsense. And it seems to me there are enough people saying Manziel got money for his autograph that if the NCAA is going to do anything then go ahead and do it. There is far too much smoke in his case for the fire not be burning out of control.

TRUETIGER1 writes:

The "Clowney Thing" got real quiet, I guess they don't want to upset Spurrier.

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