Store’s 2010 TV Spot: Current Bama Player Images

The past two weeks, I’ve chronicled activity by a Tuscaloosa suit store owner and University of Alabama student-athletes that, per a particular NCAA rule, renders those Crimson Tide football players ineligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics.

Mark Ingram, Tom Al-Betar, Julio Jones and Trent Richardson Inside T-Town Menswear in 2009

(Ingram, Jones Likenesses Featured In Suit Store TV Spot)

That athletic ineligibility is not based on student-athletes receiving benefits from T-Town Menswear owner Tom Al-Betar. Instead, the current and then-current Alabama football players in question relinquished their eligibility by allowing, tacitly or otherwise, Al-Betar to use their likenesses in multiple T-Town Menswear store displays over a period of multiple years.


The applicable NCAA rule, bylaw 12.5.2.1:

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.)

Al-Betar also used the likenesses of then-current Alabama football players in at least one T-Town Menswear television commercial that aired in the Tuscaloosa market during the summer of 2010.

In a spot uploaded to Tuscaloosa production company Jones Media’s youtube account on June 7, 2010 (screenshot), the helmets of then-current Alabama football players Mark Ingram and Julio Jones could be seen throughout a T-Town Menswear commercial featuring Al-Betar as “Tom.”

Also during the spot while on-camera, suit store owner Al-Betar touted the fact that current Alabama football players patronized his store.

During the commercial, Al-Betar was asked, “Tom I understand that many of the Alabama Crimson Tide football players get clothed here at T-Town Menswear.

Al-Betar’s response: “Yeah, they (current Alabama football players) wear their uniform at the game and they wear my uniform after the game.

Al-Betar’s T-Town Menswear Tuscaloosa television market commercial was hardly a one-off production. Jones Media has produced several Al-Betar commercials, with the latest airing in April - after the suit store owner received an official disassociation letter from the University of Alabama for displaying and selling items signed by current Alabama football players. (The aforementioned activities were confirmed by the University of Alabama in two letters.)

The T-Town Menswear spots date back to at least 2009. On April 18, 2009, then-BIRMINGHAM NEWS Alabama football beat reporter Ian Rapoport noted that former Alabama football player Tyrone Prothro had appeared in a commercial for an Al-Betar Tuscaloosa clothing outlet. (I’ve since confirmed with Rapoport personally that Al-Betar’s suit store business was the subject of the spot.)

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UA 1st Concern: Ineligibility Unrelated To Benefits

In a cease-and-desist letter (pdf) to T-Town Menswear owner Tom Al-Betar on December 22, 2010 and a March 31, 2011, letter (pdf) disassociating the Tuscaloosa suit store owner from the school’s athletic program, the first NCAA rule cited in each University of Alabama communication was NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1.

Trent Richardson signing display at T-Town Menswear - Bama Letters Cited Applicable NCAA Bylaw 12.5.2.1

NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1. 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.)

In other words, a student-athlete can be ruled ineligible to play sports even if he/she does not receive benefits of any kind from the commercial operation in question.

In his letter officially disassociating Al-Betar from UA Athletics for three years, Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore cited the suit store owner displaying memorabilia featuring current Crimson Tide athletes:

“..given the numerous items of memorabilia displayed in your store, including at times, some belonging to or signed by current student-athletes, you have potentially placed the University and its student-athletes at risk.”

In his letter, Moore did not accuse Al-Betar of providing benefits to current UA athletes.

Photos posted by Al-Betar to his now-deleted Facebook account included images that have now been confirmed to include ..

1) .. personalized, signed Alabama football jerseys of Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Julio Jones located in a T-Town Menswear storefront window while all three players were active Alabama football players - with subsequent, Facebook-dated and camera-timestamped photos of the three players inside the store after the display was created. (September 28, 2010.)

T-Town Menswear Storefront Display Of Ingram, Jones, Richardson Signed Jersey and Ingram Signed Helmet

An Ingram-signed full-size, personalized Alabama football helmet was also included in the Sept. 28, 2010, T-Town Menswear storefront display.

2) .. Mark Ingram posing for a photo inside T-Town Menswear in front of a large action photo of himself as an Alabama football player while Ingram was still an active football player for the University of Alabama. The photo was located adjacent to the T-Town Menswear checkout counter.

Mark Ingram poses for photo in front of T-Town Menswear Display Of Action Shot Of Him

3) .. Trent Richardson signing a display print inside the store with subsequent, Facebook-dated and camera-timestamped photos of Richardson inside the store after he signed the display.

Trent Richardson signing display at T-Town Menswear - Bama Letters Cited Applicable NCAA Bylaw 12.5.2.1

4)  .. a “Mark Ingram ‘Heisman’ Suit” T-Town Menswear store display, with subsequent, Facebook-dated and camera-timestamped photos of Ingram inside the store after the display was created.

Mark Ingram Heisman Suit Display At T-Town Menswear

5)  .. a now-deleted, Al-Betar Facebook photo of Alabama football player gloves accompanied by the Al-Betar comment, “mark ingram glovs you like to see come to t-town it is on desplay“, with subsequent, Facebook-dated and camera-timestamped photos of Ingram inside the store before and after the Facebook photo and comment by Al-Betar was posted to the suit store owner’s former social networking site account.

Mark Ingram Gloves On Display at T-Town Menswear According To Tom Al-Betar

6) .. Facebook photos from Al-Betar’s deleted acccount showing then-current Alabama football player Terrence Cody holding an autographed Alabama football helmet inside T-Town Menswear two weeks before the Crimson Tide’s 2010 BCS Championship victory over Texas.

Terrence Cody signed helmet inside T-Town Menswear in 2009

In additional Al-Betar Facebook photos, a similarly-signed Cody helmet could be seen in two different display windows at T-Town Menswear, with one picture camera-timestamped Jan. 17, 2010 and the other May 26, 2010.

7) .. current Alabama assistant coach Bobby Williams posing for a photo with T-Town Menswear owner Al-Betar on Christmas Day, 2009, with the aforementioned action photo of Ingram seen behind the Alabama football coach and suit store owner in the image.

Alabama assistant coach Bobby Williams at T-Town Menswear on Christmas Day with disassociated booster Tom Al-Betar In Front Of Mark Ingram Action Photo

8) .. Julio Jones, while still an active Alabama football player, posing for an Al-Betar photo - Facebook-dated Oct. 5, 2010, and titled “after the game” -  inside T-Town Menswear in front of a collectible Julio Jones fullsize helmet signed by Jones and enclosed in a case on the T-Town Menswear checkout counter.

Julio Jones poses for T-Town Menswear Photo In Front Of Julio Jones Collectible Fullsize Helmet On Store Checkout Counter

The University of Alabama initially cited NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1 in both of its official letters to Al-Betar, formalizing the school’s concern that active Alabama football players were signing personalized, Alabama football memorabilia displayed in T-Town Menswear - with those players having knowledge of such store displays. (And in one case, per the latter circumstance, assistant coach Bobby Williams.)

Such activity by student-athletes - according to NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1 - renders those individuals ineligible.

Thanks to Al-Betar’s Facebook-dated and camera-timestamped photos, the specific reasons for Alabama’s concern about the eligibility of current and then-current student-athletes as it pertains to NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1. has now been verified.

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‘mark ingram glovs come to t-town it is on desplay’

Last Friday Mark McCarter of the HUNTSVILLE TIMES reported University of Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore addressed the “current controversy” involving Alabama football players and T-Town Menswear in Tuscaloosa.

Mark Ingram Gloves On Display at T-Town Menswear According To Tom Al-Betar

Of the business, which operates three miles from the University of Alabama campus, Moore said:

“The university has responded to this maybe six months ago. Meeting with the store owner (Tom Al-Betar), his attorney, our players, everybody that we could find that was involved. Our compliance people, Mike Ward, his people, have done an outstanding job with this. It was responded to properly.”

As noted here yesterday, NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1 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.)

In a camera-timestamped January 29, 2010, photo of Alabama football player gloves posted to his Facebook account, T-Town Menswear owner Al-Betar wrote in a caption under his photo of the gloves: “mark ingram glovs you like to see come to t-town it is on desplay.”

In a photo taken inside T-Town Menswear, Al-Betar and Ingram could also be seen holding a framed Alabama football memorabilia display piece that included Crimson Tide football player gloves similar to the gloves in the Jan. 29, 2010, Al-Betar camera-timestamped photo.

In a September 15, 2010, photo seen on Al-Betar’s now-deleted Facebook account, the T-Town Menswear owner could be seen standing next to a prominent store display labeled with large text that read, “The Mark Ingram ‘Heisman’ Suit.

Mark Ingram Heisman Suit Display At T-Town Menswear

Ingram could be seen in the same suit inside T-Town Menswear in one of Al-Betar’s Facebook photos, while another Al-Betar formerly online picture showed an Ingram-autographed helmet and jersey in a storefront display in a camera-timestamped October 19, 2010 photo.

Mark Ingram Store Displays At T-Town Menswear

Additional photos from Al-Betar’s defunct Facebook account placed Ingram at T-Town Menswear on  June 25, 2010 - along with former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy.

An Al-Betar photo of another T-Town Menswear storefront display dated May 26, 2010, contained a large image of Ingram as part of an Alabama football collectible print. A photo dated September 15, 2010 by Al-Betar’s Facebook account showed additional, high profile displays throughout the store that included Ingram.

Mark Ingram With Tuscaloosa Police Signed Print Which Includes Trent Richardson Autograph And Standing In Front Of Store Display Of Himself

Ingram could also been seen inside the store taking a picture with a Tuscaloosa Police Officer in a Facebook-dated October 26, 2010, photo inside T-Town Menswear. Caught in the shot of Ingram and the police officer by Al-Betar was a large action photo of Ingram seen above the two men on display next to the store’s checkout counter.

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