TUSCALOOSA (WTVM) - The Alabama Athletic Department released an official statement saying that no NCAA rules were broken in the T-Town Menswear controversy. They reiterated that the University has disassociated itself with Tom Al-batar and T-Town Menswear.
Mike Ward, Alabama Associate Athletics Director for Compliance said:
"Our review of this matter was a part of our normal compliance program. 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."
Al-batar was seen in pictures with multiple Alabama Football players and featured recent players in his commercials for the Tuscaloosa shop. In the commercials, Al-batar claimed to have clothed the Alabama football team. He also sold University of Alabama merchandise with signatures of current and past players.
The University said they sent a "cease and desist" letter to T-Town Menswear in December. But, new commercials with former Alabama players, featuring Alabama merchandise were shot in January of 2011. On March 31, 2011 Athletic Director Mal Moore sent a disassociation letter to Al-batar.
In the letter Moore states: "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."
Moore goes on to explain that Al-batar will no longer be eligible for Tide Pride, preferred ticket programs, or stand on the sidelines at any Alabama athletic event. While the letter does not tell Al-batar to stop selling or displaying the memorabilia he already has, he may not accumulate or have athletes sign any more.