Travis: Banned Alabama booster now runs ‘Bama gear business
Remember our old friend Tom Albetar, the owner of T-Town Menswear, a shady suit and Alabama memorabilia store in the local Tuscaloosa mall?
A couple of years ago Alabama disassociated the booster from the program after he sold lots of player autographs. Alabama argued — wink and nod — that the players had no idea their autographs were being sold.
Well, our old buddy Tom has a new website and a new business — he’s dropped the suits. Now he just sells Crimson Tide memorabilia.
So what’s on the front page of the website?
Autographed jerseys from AJ McCarron, TJ Yeldon and Amari Cooper. Two of these guys are current players for the Crimson Tide.
(Update: FOXSports.com reached out to T-Town to verify the correct spelling of Albetar’s last name, which T-Town declined to do before requesting not to be contacted. Later, we noticed T-Town Gallery had pulled the jersey image mentioned above, which can still be seen here. Also, links to gloves worn by Vinnie Sunseri and TJ Yeldon were removed.)
That’s an NCAA violation.
Displaying jerseys in this manner is also a direct violation of the requirements Alabama laid out in this disassociation letter it sent nearly three years ago to Albetar.
In its letter disassociating him from the program Alabama instructed Albetar: "You should refrain from obtaining any items of memorabilia from our student-athletes, including used equipment and apparel. You should also refrain from obtaining autographs from our student-athletes when they are in your store."
Despite Alabama’s hectoring letter, Albetar didn’t just "refrain from obtaining any items of memorabilia from our student-athletes" — he opened a memorabilia store designed to sell these objects!
Just scroll through the products available for sale here — whether it’s the gloves Christion Jones wore in the Virginia Tech game (just $1,200), Kenyan Drake’s LSU game gloves (just $750) or CJ Mosley’s gloves ($950) from the big Texas A&M game. There’s also a pair of wrist bands signed by Yeldon for $350.
But what if you want wide receiver Amari Cooper’s signed gloves or footballs? Don’t worry, Albetar’s got you covered there too ($700).
But maybe you’re thinking, screw that, I need the whole 2012 team’s autograph on a helmet.
Just scroll through the gallery — if you’re a top player you’ve probably got gear for sale.
Heck, even if you aren’t a top player, you’ve probably got gear for sale too.
It’s amazing how all these Alabama players are kind enough to just give away their gear for free to a memorabilia store owner. They’re so nice!
I’m sure they had no idea it would be put up for sale. And I’m sure they’re getting nothing for it either.
Just the sweetest boys possible.
Albetar seems to have a very good relationship with bunches of Alabama players, including quarterback AJ McCarron, who can be seen posing for a picture with his girlfriend Katherine Webb in front of a rack of suits.
AJ’s in at least 13 or 14 different outfits, meaning he made a regular habit of signing autographs and hanging out in a mall store that then sold his autographs.
He even brought his mom by. That’s completely normal, right? I mean, raise your hand if you weren’t friends with an old guy who ran a mall store while you were in college.
There’s nothing to see here at all. Move right along. Alabama’s compliance office has got this covered.
They’re on it, guys.
Look, I don’t begrudge any player getting paid for his autograph, but if you don’t think it’s hysterical that a mall-store owner in Tuscaloosa holds Nick Saban’s entire legacy in the palm of his hand, you aren’t a college football fan.
If Albetar ever talked, Saban’s dynasty might turn into a smoldering pile of ruins.
Indeed, Albetar may be the only guy in Tuscaloosa who doesn’t give a damn what Saban says. (That’s probably why the players like him.) Because he’s still hanging out with players and violating NCAA rules by having current players sign jerseys, cleats, wrist bands and gloves that they know will then be sold.
God bless you, Tom, I’m actually becoming a fan of yours. Unlike the NCAA, at least you might be paying the players for their work.
But I think it’s definitely time for Alabama to send him another letter.
Roll — disassociated booster — Tide, y’all.
(Update: "We are aware of the story produced today," Alabama athletics director Bill Battle said according to a report by al.com. "As part of our ongoing compliance efforts, our compliance department looks into everything that warrants concern. That effort is diligent and all-encompassing, and requires constant communication and education regarding all potential issues.")