TUSCALOOSA | Local clothing store owner Tom Al-Betar received a cease-and-desist letter from the University of Alabama compliance office in December of last year requesting compliance with NCAA regulations prohibiting the use of a student-athlete's name, photograph or likeness to promote a commercial product or service, but a UA investigation into the matter found no rules violations or eligibility concerns.
Al-Betar owns T-Town Men's Wear in University Mall, which sells high-end men's suits and clothing. The storefront has signed Alabama items on display, and a source close to the situation indicated Alabama's December letter made specific reference to the sale or distribution of items autographed by current UA student-athletes. Phone calls to Al-Betar were not immediately returned.
In the wake of NCAA rules issues at Ohio State regarding autographed memorabilia, attention was drawn to the store Friday when internet photos from T-Town Men's Wear's facebook account depicting running back Trent Richardson and other UA athletes began circulating Friday through blogs and message boards. Many of the players in the photos are former UA athletes, including Javier Arenas and Greg McElroy. The NCAA rule does not apply to former players whose eligibility has expired, however, so only the relationship between Al-Betar and student-athletes who have remaining eligibility are of concern to UA.
The pertinent NCAA bylaw is 184.108.40.206, which deals with non-permissible commercial advertisement.
A related NCAA bylaw requires student-athletes, or their institutions acting on their behalf, to take necessary action to stop such commercial sales, which prompted UA's letter to Al-Betar. Although no rules violations have been found, UA compliance has continued to monitor the situation.
Several former UA student-athletes, but no current UA student-athletes, were depicted in photos on display in the storefront Friday afternoon. Among the former players on display is NFL nose guard Terrence Cody of the Baltimore Ravens, who participated in a television advertisement for the store after his eligibility expired in early 2010.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.