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Another Round With The T-Town Menswear Story

sign-here-signatureOn Thursday, the website OutkickTheCoverage.com took the lid off the ol’ “T-Town Menswear” story again.  The Tuscaloosa store has become well known for selling autographed memorabilia from Alabama football players.  The Tide fan who owns the store — Tom Al-Betar — has already been disassociated from the Bama football program and asked not to obtain any memorabilia, autographs or autographed memorabilia from current Crimson Tide football players.

Ah, but a look at his store shows autographed jerseys by Amari Cooper and TJ Yeldon for sale.  They are current members of the Alabama football team.  Whoops.

Al-Betar told CBSSports.com:

 

“When people graduate they (sign).  When they are in school nobody’s in here…

This is ridiculous.  There is nothing to worry about.”

 

According to Al-Betar, people get signatures from players during Alabama’s “Fan Day” and then bring the stuff in to T-Town Menswear.  Photographs of current players in the store and of memorabilia bearing current players’ signatures suggest otherwise.

Alabama AD Bill Battle offered this response:

 

“We are aware of the story produced today.  As part of our ongoing compliance efforts, our compliance department looks into everything that warrants concern.  That effort is diligent and all-encompassing, and requires constant communication and education regarding all potential issues.”

 

Our thoughts?  OK.  First, Al-Betar must not be a very bright guy.  If you post photos on your store’s Facebook page showing items bearing current players’ signatures you’re not exactly keeping a low profile.

Second, if the University of Alabama wants to prevent this — and that’s questionable seeing how their football players keep finding their way into Al-Betar’s store — it needs to get serious with Tide players.  Like this: “We find one photo or one autograph that places you in that store and you’ll sit for three games.”  That would end the T-Town Menswear connection lickety-split.  If — again if — Alabama isn’t using this as a way for its players to get a little sump’m sump’m under the table (or above the table thanks to the dimwittedness of Al-Betar).

Third, don’t expect very much to come of this.  The NCAA handed Johnny Manziel a half-game suspension to start last season.  As we stated at the time, the NCAA was setting a precedent.  From that point forward, the NCAA can simply hand out first-half suspensions whenever things like this comes up.

The Crimson Tide open with West Virginia in the Georgia Dome on August 30th.  They may be short in numbers for the first half of that game.  All because one Bama fan, several Bama players, and the Bama administration don’t seem to really understand what the word “disassociate” means.

Alabama — along with Mississippi State and Tennessee — still awaits word from the NCAA regarding a Yahoo! Sports story last year that claimed players at each school received illegal benefits from agents and runners for agents.  It’s becoming pretty obvious post-Miami investigation that the NCAA is throwing up its hands more often when it comes to athletic scandals.

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And Speaking Of T-Town Menswear…

SportsByBrooks.com isn’t letting go of the T-Town Menswear story just yet.  The site has dug up a television spot for the store in which owner Tom Al-Betar states that Alabama players “wear their uniform at the game and they wear my uniform after the game.”

Whether Al-Betar paid Bama players — in cash or merchandise — is still a matter of great debate.  There’s been no evidence yet that Tide players received payment for signing merchandise for his store.  The school has said its players were not paid.

So let’s give Alabama the benefit of the doubt on that front.  That still doesn’t mean UA is in the clear.

If the NCAA decides that Alabama players or their likenesses were used in advertisements for Al-Betar’s store, it could rule those players to have been in violation of Bylaw 12.5.2.1.  That rule states:


“After becoming a student-athlete, an individual shall not be eligible for participation in intercollegiate athletics if the individual accepts any remuneration for or permits the use of his or here name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.”


Attorneys can parse that language in a lot of ways, but the bottom line is this: If the NCAA feels that multiple Bama players were being used to advertise T-Town Menswear then it’s possible those players could be retroactively deemed ineligible and Alabama could have victories — and possible the 2009 BCS title — vacated.

It’s possible

Just depends on how the NCAA views the case.  If the NCAA decides to even investigate the situation.

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More Photos In Bama Case; WR Jones In Al Betar’s Office

This morning we linked you to the latest T-Town Menswear photo dump from SportsByBrooks.com.  That site’s photos of Julio Jones — then an Alabama player — signing a jersey (with a stack of other jerseys nearby) has led OutkickTheCoverage.com to release a few more photos, too.

It seems someone took photos of Jones in Tom Al Betar’s office at T-Town Menswear.  One shows Jones with a college-age girl on his lap and Al Betar smiling happily to his left.  (Al Betar’s name has been spelled Albetar, Al-Betar and Al Betar on various sites… we’re going with the latter.)

Is it against NCAA rules for a player to be in the office of a business owner?  No.  But we all know how this looks.  After all, Al Betar was later disassociated from the Crimson Tide program for some reason.  So here was a Tide star sitting in the office of a man who would eventually be barred from UA’s program.

Go ahead and add this to the pile of circumstantial evidence that’s already leading to a Bama conviction in the court of public opinion. 

Meanwhile, we await the next photos to appear in three… two… one…

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