A couple days ago, we noted that Alabama had quickly and quietly sent a cease and desist letter to the owner of a Tuscaloosa men’s clothing shop asking that the owner, named Tom Albetar, not use the likeness of any of the Tide’s student-athletes in his advertising, including running back Trent Richardson.
Neither the NCAA or the SEC was asked to be involved and the case appeared open and shut.
On the surface, that still seems to hold true.
(Writer’s note: get your reading glasses on. The letter print is small)
In the letter, Mike Ward, UA’s Associate Athletic Director for Compliance, states, “It’s been brought to our attention that you are selling or distributing, for commercial purposes, items depicting current University of Alabama student-athletes, specifically, items autographed by current student-athletes.”
By writing the letter, Alabama is executing the specifics of NCAA bylaw 18.104.22.168, which states that if items such as autographs are sold for commercial use without the student-athletes’ knowledge, the student-athlete or institution must take steps to stop that activity.
So, for now, everything seems to be in order in Tuscaloosa; no athletes appear to have knowingly signed their name with the intention of it being sold. But given how things are rumored, speculated and sometimes uncovered in today’s media, whether it will stay that way remains to be seen.
UPDATED 1:42 p.m. ET on 7/25: outkickthecoverage.com also has a picture of Richardson signing a jersey with what appears to be a price tag and a name on the back. To reiterate, a player can’t sign a piece of memorabilia with the knowledge that it will be sold commercially. Likewise, a store cannot sell an item of memorabilia, such as a jersey, with the student-athlete’s name attached to it.
Whether that is what’s going on in this picture, we’ll let you be the judge. But it certainly raises a few eyebrows.