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.
(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 18.104.22.168:
“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.)