|Tom Al-betar enjoying his sideline pass|
The discussion by a couple of Sports Blogs (ours included) about the relationship between the University of Alabama and local menswear store "T-Town Menswear" just keeps getting stranger.
We've talked about the photos and documents exchanged after the school mysteriously found out after several years that players had been going to the store on a regular basis and signing memorabilia. That memorabilia was...and apparently still is prominently displayed at the store. It also was, though no longer, sold via the internet.
Alabama says they investigated the relationship, found nothing wrong, though the sent the owner of the store a "Cease and Desist" letter and told him to no longer hang around the program.
However, it left a TON of questions.
Among those: Did the owner, Tom Al-Betar, who had a slew of photos of himself on the sidelines at games, swap out autographs for suits? Did he use the athletes to sell and market within his store?
On the surface, it appears that way. And it is an NCAA violation to do so. It's not a "Major" violation, but it is one. Particularly if he paid the players in new suits.
For his part, Al-betar says he doesn't sell the memorabilia. And Alabama says "He's done nothing wrong". Yet questions still exist. And the NCAA doesn't seem to care.
Investigative reporting by our pal SportsByBrooks.com and Clay Travis at OutKickTheCoverage.com uncovered quite a bit of circumstantial evidence here that says there is wrongdoing. But the NCAA doesn't seem to care.
It has drawn the ire of the lunatic fringe of Alabama and Auburn fans and reporters. A pair of reporters for the Birmingham News have poked around on the story but haven't done much. It's been poo-poo'd by our favorite Alabama radio host, one Paul Finebaum, mostly because a newspaper reporter didn't break it.
But the question is: Why doesn't the NCAA seem to care?
The cared when Ohio State football players sold memorabilia to a tattoo artists for tattoo's. And again. Though not a huge violation, the players involved were suspended.
When you have a chance, go to Brooks's website: CLICK HERE
And more importantly, go to Clay's website, because he broke this: CLICK HERE
Follow the trail. Read the evidence and judge for yourself.
We aren't saying that players shouldn't be able to profit from the usage of their image, they should. But right now, it is an NCAA violation to do so. And that is exactly what they've done here.
Also, check out this video from Brooks of a "T-Town" commercial from last year. Once you get past the premise of a "Louie Linguini" in the spot, listen to Al-betar boast of players wearing his suits after games. Folks, these are college kids who can barely scrounge up meal money, they most certainly can't afford a high quality tailored suit....or in the case of former star Julio Jones, 10 of them.
The video is here and yes, it is edited:
6/7/2010: Tuscaloosa T-Town Menswear Commercial... by sportsxbrooks