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Alabama Can't Control Boosters, But Can Control Players


If you haven’t read Clay Travis’ report on the T-town Menswear saga, go read it. We’ll wait right here.

If you are one of those Luddites that think your one click makes a dime’s worth of difference in his paycheck, let us sum the whole thing up for you.

Tom Albetar is a booster that runs a couple of stores in a dying mall in the center of Tuscaloosa. He offers Alabama Crimson Tide memorabilia for sale, including items autographed by past and current members of the team. Several players, including AJ McCarron and his girlfriend, professional reaction shot Katherine Webb, have been photographed in the store being all buddy-buddy with Albetar.

The University of Alabama issued a cease-and-desist letter disassociating Albetar from their program, which he has by all appearances ignored. This latest kerfuffle prompted UA Director of Athletics Bill Battle to issue a statement:

“We are aware of the story produced today. 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.”

So what should we think of all this? Should angry mobs descend on the mall and burn Albetar’s store to the ground? Should Clay Travis work as hard investigating his own school (Tennessee; shocking we know) as he does Alabama?

Here are a few takeaways to consider.

• Tom Albetar seems to be a real sleaze. But being a sleaze isn’t illegal, nor against NCAA rules. He gets off being in close proximity to the Alabama football program, and has the money to gain that access. College football has a seedy underbelly, and that’s true at even the schools that we pretend are squeaky clean.

• People with money always have, and always will, have access to the inner circle of college athletics. Just like they have access to the best medical care, best schools, and best food. That’s just how it is.

• Contrary to what Clay Travis might imply, it’s not an NCAA violation for a current player to sign autographs on memorabilia. It’s a violation for that player to be paid for his autograph.

• There’s probably no way anyone can prove Albetar is paying current Tide players to sign memorabilia, because if he has half a brain, it’s being done by intermediaries, in cash.

• Tom Albetar is probably paying current Tide players to sign memorabilia.

• The only way to police this is to issue a decree that any players who are found to frequent Albetar’s stores, or whose autographs show up on memorabilia in his stores, will be suspended for something like four games. Anything less is a tacit approval of picking up a little cash on the side.

• Elite athletes pick up a little cash on the side. They do it at Alabama, and Auburn, and Texas A&M, too. Elite athletes are afforded privileges some of us don’t get. Again, that’s just how it is. If you don’t like it, start campaigning to have college football players earn a paycheck.

• Clay Travis earns his own paycheck by generating pageviews and ratings, not by being an objective journalist. Alabama fans shouldn’t expect Mike Wallace in matters like this. Targeting Alabama is a sure-fire way to earn eyeballs, because Alabama fans leap all over stories like this as further evidence of a global conspiracy against the Crimson Tide, and the other 49 states use it as further evidence of their own prejudices against the state of Alabama.

• None of this will stop Alabama from signing a top recruiting class, because the players, the coaches, and everyone inside the velvet ropes of college football knows how the game is played.

• Nick Saban still runs college football, whether Clay Travis, national runners-up Auburn, or anyone else likes it or not.

We’d like to know your thoughts. Can anything be done about guys like Albetar? And how culpable are the players themselves in these matters?

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Alabama Crimson Tide Football

  • Greg Duke

    Guys like this are sleeze balls. Unfortunately, unscrupulous boosters and money-grubbers will always be around, thinking only about themselves. Unless you sequester the team on a 24/7 basis, knowledge and a system to manage the players is an absolute must. Remember Phil Fulmer, and his player/booster deal in Memphis that caused the last snafu? Well, there are plenty of other folks around the country that cannot beat us on the field, but will try and entrap our players into these scams to get our program into trouble. The on-field battles are nothing compared to what Bama management has to deal with off the field.

  • Pamela Trammell

    Nobody in the Bama fan base loves and supports Bama Hammer more than I, but seriously Tony, Tom is not a sleaze. Maybe you should actually meet the guy before making such a statement. He is a very smart businessman, and a good man. I like the fact that he refuses to cow-tow to idiots like Travis, and those that stalk and hound him 24/7 on the street as well as on the internet. He knows what he is doing. Those players, as well as many, many fans, love the guy! Even Saban said he has no problem with current players visiting his stores, I hate that Bama fans can’t stand up to idiots like Travis, and choose to take their frustration out on Tom, instead of Clay. Alabama Nation fully supports Tom and we REFUSE to cow-tow to the bastard. Period.

    • Cory McCarty

      I consider myself part of Alabama Nation (two degrees from UA). But I don’t support Tom. If he were truly a fan of the team, he’d listen to that Cease and Desist and he’d stop wooing current players to sign memorabilia. Once the players have reached the end of their eligibility, he can have them sign as much as he wants. But he would have to pay them much more than he likely is paying them now. You said yourself he’s a smart businessman. He’s scheming the system, spending less to get more, knowing that the players can’t exactly argue with him about pay.

      I mean, I hate Clay Travis as much as the next guy, but Tom isn’t doing himself, or Bama Nation, any favors by continuing to have memorabilia for sale with current players’ autographs. Especially in such a high-profile, visible manner.

      • Pamela Trammell

        You do know that it is legal to get signatures from players on fan day, and turn around and sell them again, right?

        • Cory McCarty

          It’s LEGAL for people to profit off their image. I don’t care what’s legal. It’s against NCAA rules (which are both more and less important in this discussion). Period. Someone who knowing breaks NCAA rules that hampers their preferred team is a jerk. I went to high school with guys whom, technically, it would have been against NCAA rules for me to attempt to sway them to come to UA. Please don’t attempt to have an NCAA rules discussion here. I know them better than you, I promise.

          • Pamela Trammell

            He has done nothing illegal. Period. I won’t attempt to argue anything with you. Don’t like arguing with rocks.

          • Cory McCarty

            LOLOKAY. Seriously, the whole point of my last post was that nothing to do with the NCAA has anything to do with laws. I specifically mentioned that he was doing nothing illegal. And you agreed with that, but somehow I have the intelligence of a rock while the person who can’t understand the difference between US laws and NCAA regulations is the “intelligent” one in this conversation.

            Neat.

            My point is the same as Tony’s. Even if the letter of the regulation is being followed (it’s not though, LDO), the spirit is being broken. Now, I’m of the belief that the regulation is unnecessarily restrictive and outdated. But that doesn’t change the fact that it IS the current rule. And it’s very likely being broken. And that can hurt the entire athletic department. And it should stop.

          • Pamela Trammell

            Who made you regulator of broken spirits? “Very likely” means nothing. MY point is, that people like you, and the others on here ready to lynch Tom Albetar, should be madder at Clay Travis. I blame ignorant people, such as the ones here (yeah, that includes you), that turn on your automatic self winding thong twisters every time Clay Travis barks a word about anything negative to do with Bama. Getting rather old. I’m moving on. Enjoy being played like a puppet. Yall are the “Bammer cry babies” that the rivals whine about all the time.

    • BamaHammer

      First, thanks for the support; we’re honored.

      While we can agree on Travis, it strains credulity that teenage athletes are all too eager to sign memorabilia for Albetar to then sell, with no recompense. UA has already asked him to cease and desist, and yet he continues the practice. While there’s no law or bylaw being broken in a way that can be proven, it stinks to high heaven. And while that isn’t illegal either, it doesn’t give Alabama fans any moral grounds to stand on when we see Johnny Manziel or Cam Newton grin because they, too, were smart enough not to leave a paper trail.

      • Pamela Trammell

        What paper trail? Have you actually seen current players in his store signing anything? There are ways to have things signed legally. It is also legal to sell those items to anyone that wishes to pay for them.

        • Cory McCarty

          I don’t have to see current players signing the stuff to recognize Amari Cooper’s signature.

          You’re also still using “legal” in a discussion that doesn’t involve laws.

          • Pamela Trammell

            So, you can recognize Amari Cooper’s signature. BFD, but congratulations, I guess.

          • Cory McCarty

            So, I offered a counter to your question and you just brushed it off like it wasn’t relevant…

            I bet you’re awesome at parties.

    • Franklin Crittenden

      Part of the problem^^^^^^^^

      • Pamela Trammell

        …..

        • Cory McCarty

          Five periods doesn’t equal a real response, Pam. If you have some real discussion to be had, let’s do it. Anyone can put a random number of punctuation marks after someone else’s comment.

          • Pamela Trammell

            It’s all the response that guy will ever get from me. It wasn’t a reply to you, so it doesn’t apply to you.

  • Rick

    As a true Alabama fan, I wouldn’t think of doing anything to cause a problem , that would lead to a possible NCAA investigation . These people are about themselves and are selfish so called fans.

  • PharohMan

    The only sleaze in this story is CLAY TRAVIS!

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