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 126.96.36.199.
NCAA bylaw 188.8.131.52. 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
.. 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.
The University of Alabama initially cited NCAA bylaw 184.108.40.206 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 220.127.116.11 - 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 18.104.22.168. has now been verified.