TUSCALOOSA _ The University of Alabama athletics department issued a statement clarifying its findings during internal investigation regarding football players linked to clothing store T-Town Menswear in Tuscaloosa, and revealed that it had disassociated itself from owner Tom Albetar in March.
"Our review of this matter was a part of our normal compliance program,” Mike Ward, University of Alabama Associate Athletics Director for Compliance, said in a statement. “We routinely look at all situations of potential concern. Based on our review of this matter, we concluded that Mr. Albetar was in compliance with NCAA regulations. It is not a violation for student-athletes to sign autographs and it is not a violation for a business to display photos, jerseys or other items depicting current student-athletes. We found no evidence that any student-athlete received any extra benefits.
“Due to the concerns expressed in our letter to Mr. Albetar dated March 31, 2011, we disassociated him from our program. As we always do in matters of this nature, we discussed this matter with the SEC Office. Because we found no evidence of any NCAA violation, we did not self-report a violation. UA will continue to be proactive in all areas of compliance monitoring."
Earlier this week Alabama disclosed a copy of the cease-and-desist form letter sent to the business on Dec. 22, 2010.
“It has been brought to our attention that you are selling or distributing, for commercial purposes, items depicting current University of Alabama student-athletics, specifically, items autographed by current student-athletes. The use of a current student-athlete’s name or likeness on commercial its offered for sale, or for advertising or promotional purposes, without his or her knowledge or permission can jeopardize the student-athlete’s eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics with the National Collegiate Athletic Association.”
One of the items in question was a No. 3 jersey in the store’s front window, which had apparently been signed by junior running back Trent Richardson. There’s also is a sign that autographed items are for display only and not for sale.
Albetar will be disassociated for three years, during which he can't participate in programs like Tide Pride, any commercial or promotional activities on campus or be in any limited-access area like the sideline at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The letter signed by Director of Athletics Mal Moore to Albetar stated: “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. This risk includes exposing our student-athletes to potential NCAA investigations or sensationalized journalism based on assumptions that wrongdoing has taken place.”
It continued, “While you have been cooperative in working with the institution and forthcoming when interviewed, the institution has determined that it must take further action at this time for the protection of its student-athletes.”
Disassociation is defined by NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52:
"The disassociation of relations with a representative of an institution's athletics interests may be imposed on a permanent basis, for the duration of the applicable probationary period or for another specified period of time. When an institution is required to show cause why a representative of the institution's athletics interest should not be disassociated from its athletics program, such disassociation shall require that the institution:
(a) Refrain from accepting any assistance from the individual
that would aid in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes or the support of enrolled student-athletes;
(b) Not accept financial assistance for the institution's athletics program
from the individual;
(c) Ensure that no athletics benefit or privilege be provided to the
individual that is not generally available to the public at large; and
(d) Take such other actions against the individual that the institution determines to be within its authority to eliminate the involvement of the individual in the institution's athletics program.