|Tom Albetar on Sidelines|
This is an interesting story that we are aware of and raises a few questions. For those not in the know, apparently, a Tuscaloosa based business called "T-Town Menswear" was selling and/or distributing items autographed by University of Alabama student athletes.
For those Ohio State fans out there, yeah, this should raise an eyebrow.
This specifically refers back to a story done by the excellent writer Clay Travis and his new blog "Outkickthecoverage.com".
In a story Travis wrote on July 22nd, he detailed how the store advertised itself with signed jerseys from Julio Jones, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson during the 2010 season. Those jerseys were featured in the window displays which Travis documents as an NCAA violation, though not a serious one.
Read the entire story from outkickthecoverage RIGHT HERE
Shortly thereafter, Joe Schad of the 4-letter (ESPN), did a story, that didn't credit Travis, stating Alabama had looked into this and found no problems. He and now others mentioned the school had sent a "Cease and desist" letter to the store. And they found no violations or problems.
Just yesterday, Travis produced a slew of photos and documentation showing the owner of the Men's store, Tom Albetar on the sidelines, with a sideline pass at a slew of Alabama games. Not something most store owners get when they feel the urge. The indirect inference is Albetar is treated like a booster, not a random store owner.
Oh...and after the 1st "Cease and Desist" letter, Albetar still procured autographs from current Crimson Tiders A.J McCarron and Nico Johnson. The school sent a second letter to him after that. acknowledging that autographs were sold.
You can read that from OutKickTheCoverage RIGHT HERE
Through it all, the school's compliance department maintains the players had no idea the items were being sold. But the school did. Which makes zero sense. Why would they not say anything to the players about this? Why would they tell the guys to "Stay Away" after the first letter was issued?
The biggest question Travis poses, and we concur with is "Why is the NCAA taking Alabama at its word about this?" They were much more aggressive with Ohio State and quite honestly, this sounds, at least on the surface, like the exact same issue.
We think, much like Ohio State, where there is smoke, there is almost ALWAYS fire. The Alabama fans may not think so and the school appears not to think so. But this sounds fishy--at best. Had there not been documented evidence of Albetar flashing his sideline passes and his access to players, it would be less significant.
We hope a further investigation will be launched, but we aren't really confident that it will happen. In part, we believe, because its Alabama. We don't for a minute believe this is a "Program Killer", but it sure sounds like a pattern that needs to be stopped if the NCAA Investigative arm is what it says it is.
We'll be careful in the future, because as crazy as the fanbase is there, they are likely to come after people who criticize. All we are asking is they be treated like everyone else.
In that vein, here's what they call a "Hype Video" for the 2011 season: