By now you know the University of Alabama has told the BIRMINGHAM NEWS and ESPN that it found “no (NCAA-rules related) wrongdoing” involving the relationship between current football players and Tuscaloosa suit store owner and formally disassociated University of Alabama booster Tom Al-Betar.
(Why is Nico Johnson out to dinner with disassociated booster Tom Al-Betar?)
Nick Saban has echoed that sentiment to Ian Fitzsimmons of ESPN 103.3. Dallas and Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore has stated publicly that UA Compliance has done an “outstanding” job in responding to the situation.
Alabama also reportedly has not contacted the NCAA or SEC about dozens of Crimson Tide football memorabilia items signed by current and then-current Alabama players that were displayed at T-Town Menswear during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. (And continue to be displayed to this day.)
(Julio Jones, Nico Johnson in T-Town Menswear during 2009 season)
Camera-timestamped and Facebook-dated photos since deleted from the web by Al-Betar clearly showing former Alabama football players Julio Jones, Mark Ingram and current Alabama football player Trent Richardson engaged in activities rendering them ineligible per NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199, while additional Al-Betar Facebook photos and video show current Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson engaged in similar NCAA rule-breaking.
Johnson’s involvment with Tuscaloosa suit store owner has included dinner with Al-Betar on at least two different occasions and Johnson visiting T-Town Menswear on nearly a dozen, Facebook photo-documented occasions during the 2009 and 2010 football seasons. One dinner involving Al-Betar and Johnson was recorded on video by Al-Betar and also posted to one of his former Facebook accounts.
Johnson-signed memorabilia can be see in Al-Betar Facebook photos at the T-Town Menswear checkout counter and in a storefront window. Al-Betar first posted a Facebook photo of the T-Town Menswear window display of Johnson’s personalized #35 University of Alabama football jersey and a helmet signed by Johnson in September, 2010.
From Facebook-dated and camera-timestamped photos, Johnson is pictured in now-deleted Al-Betar photos before and after T-Town Menswear featured the Johnson personalized jersey and signed helmet display.
As Johnson continued to be repeatedly seen inside T-Town Menswear while his personalized jersey and signed helmet was on display in the store window, he is ineligible to play intercollegiate sports per NCAA rule 188.8.131.52 - which 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 her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.” (Page 74.)
While Ingram and Jones have since left the Alabama program, the confirmed ineligibility of Johnson and Richardson figures to have a considerable impact on Alabama’s upcoming football season.
That is, if the NCAA follows its own rules.