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On Friday morning outkickthecoverage.com broke the story of the shady relationship between T-Town Menswear and the Alabama football program. Later that morning Alabama shot down the legitimacy of that story by saying it had sent a cease and desist letter to the store back in December. Alabama also said that it had not contacted anyone at the SEC or the NCAA about the story. On Saturday I requested that Alabama produce a copy of the cease and desist letter and explain to me its relationship with Tom Albetar, the owner of T-Town Menswear. On Sunday Alabama released the cease and desist letter to OKTC. In that letter Alabama stated that Albetar was “selling or distributing…items depicting current University of Alabama student-athletes, specifically, items autographed by current student-athletes.”
Four days passed during which time Alabama offered no comment on Albetar or his status with the program. Then one hour before its release of this official disassociation letter Alabama responded to my Freedom of Information request seeking any emails Nick Saban might have sent or received about T-Town Menswear, his players signing autographs, or Tom Albetar with this cryptic, suspicious and nonsensical denial of that request: “Mr. Travis: After reviewing your request, it is our opinion that, based on the law of Alabama, court decisions interpreting that law and opinions by the Attorney General, the University does not have public records that are responsive to your request.”
One hour later Alabama releases the official disassociation letter which you can read here. It’s important to note that this disassociation doesn’t actually mean anything. If violations occurred they would still have the same impact as if there had been no disassociation.
This is an attempt by Alabama to isolate Albetar and make him look like a rogue. It’s also an attempt to end a story that continues to grow. Both will fail.
Eight other comments/questions from today’s blockbuster release:
1. Even though Alabama believes that Albetar is not presently associated with the program, he is now disassociated.
Welcome to the world of Tuscaloosa logic.
Again, the goal here is to isolate Albetar. But keep in mind, he wasn’t disassociated until March 31. Every single picture or story that we’ve written here predates this letter. Also, Alabama doesn’t deny that he’s a booster. That means, the university believes he is. They wouldn’t have disassociated him otherwise.
2. Alabama did, in fact, notify the SEC about this matter.
Quoth the statement: “As we always do in matters of this nature, we discussed this matter with the SEC Office.”
So why did Alabama tell ESPN and OKTC that it hadn’t done that on Friday? If that statement on Friday was untrue, why did SEC officials allow that lie to stand without correction? In so doing the SEC became complicit in endorsing an untruth, i.e. that it had no knowledge of this situation.
In other words, why has Alabama not been truthful from the start? And if it hasn’t been completely truthful from the start, why should we believe it’s being truthful now?
3. Why did Alabama not just announce that Albetar had been disassociated from the program this past Friday?
It has been nearly four months since this disassociation letter was written.
Instead of referencing this disassociation letter from the beginning Alabama said that it had sent him a cease and desist letter in December. The university mentioned nothing at all about a disassociation prior to tonight. Isn’t the disassociation of a booster actually the resolution of this story? If it had already happened, why stop at a halfway point of the story?
What was, and is, Alabama still trying to hide?
4. What occurred between December 22 and March 31 that necessitated a change in Alabama’s policy towards Albetar?
Something had to, right? The cease and desist letter went out on December 22. But then Albetar wasn’t disassociated until the end of March. What did Alabama uncover?
5. If Alabama is so afraid of Albetar’s influence, why has Nick Saban not banned his players from going to the store and why didn’t Saban just say Albetar had been disassociated in today’s interview?
Appearing on Dallas radio station 103.3, Alabama head coach Nick Saban offered his first public comments on the T-Town Menswear controversy. Asked by radio show host Ian Fitzsimmons whether he was concerned about the situation, Saban replied, “Oh, yeah. And our compliance people have been on top of this for a long time. I think this is an example of…it’s not a violation if you sign a shirt for somebody, you just can’t receive compensation for it. We’ve done a cease and desist with this establishment a long time ago to make sure everybody understands what players can and can’t do. You know, I guess I could ban our players from the place but until somebody can sorta convince me that somebody is doing something wrong — which I haven’t been convinced of yet — I don’t know if that’s fair to our players.”
The cease and desist letter in December said that Albetar was selling current player autographs. That didn’t convince Saban that something was wrong?
Saban continued: “I also think that we need to take some deeper looks at things like this. You know one guy posts something negative and it becomes a national story that everybody’s interested in but there’s so many good things that we should be talking about relative to college football and all the good things that are done in college football. There’s nothing sick about it, everything’s good about it.”
Every single thing about college football is good, really?
“And I definitely think we should do something to improve the quality of life of the student athletes who are on scholarship. I think if we did that maybe we wouldn’t have some of these issues where somebody’s trying to get 15 bucks for signing a hat,” Saban said.
We’re actually in agreement here.
6. This latest letter was sent via “hand delivery” purportedly on March 31.
Why would you hand deliver this letter as opposed to sending it registered mail so that there would actually be a record of its arrival? Precisely because there is no record of its delivery. Hand delivering a previously unacknowledged letter is pretty convenient…and suspicious as hell.
It’s why just about any letter of significance is delivered with a signature required.
Here’s a bigger question for you, didn’t Alabama AD Mal Moore attend the NIT championship game on March 31st in New York City? According to the Birmingham News, he was in New York City all week. So how could Moore have signed a letter that was hand-delivered on that date if he wasn’t in Tuscaloosa? Put simply, he couldn’t have. Remember, this letter wasn’t mailed, it was hand-delivered on the same day as the NIT title game.
7. Do you think Alabama would have ever released this letter without OKTC and the huge audience we’ve already created in less than a week pursuing this story?
Alabama would have kept its untruth about the cease and desist letter out there and no one else would have called them on it. Because hardly anyone will ask people in positions of power tough questions these days. ESPN had Nick Saban all day. How many questions about this did they ask him?
Not a single one.
On the same day that the school announces they’re disassociating a booster!
So we’re not stopping on this story either. There’s more coming.
8. Finally, let’s return to the requested emails.
What’s Alabama hiding behind a statement of response that makes no sense?
Again, here was Alabama’s response when asked if Nick Saban had received or sent any emails about T-Town Menswear, his players signing autographs, or Tom Albetar.
Mr. Travis: “After reviewing your request, it is our opinion that, based on the law of Alabama, court decisions interpreting that law and opinions by the Attorney General, the University does not have public records that are responsive to your request.”
So is the state of Alabama’s position really that the freedom of information act doesn’t apply to the state? Apparently so. And if that’s the position, doesn’t it really make you wonder what those emails might say?
We’ll keep rolling, don’t worry, this thing is far from over.
Here’s OKTC’s coverage thus far if you’re just catching up: