As the story surrounding T-Town Menswear continues to grow — USA Today had it on the front page of today’s newspaper — and the Birmingham News sent two reporters to the store yesterday, including lead columnist Kevin Scarbinsky who noted what appears to be Trent Richardson’s BCS game jersey on the wall, Alabama continues to remain silent. It has now been four days since OKTC requested comment on what Tom Albetar’s official status with the program is. The longer this silence drags on the more likely it seems that the university has determined Albetar, a man who received multiple sideline passes, is a booster, raising the stakes that much higher in this growing story. If Albetar is a booster who sold autographed items from current players, how can Alabama claim that it didn’t know and shouldn’t haven known about the activities?
Especially when OKTC is about to blow this story up even more, why is Trent Richardson out for a hibachi dinner with Tom Albetar, the man Alabama has confirmed has been selling autographed Alabama gear featuring Richardson? What’s more, who do you think picked up the check the store owner or the student-athlete?
Does Alabama know about this photo? Can they prove that Richardson paid for his part of the meal? And if Richardson did pay for this meal in January of 2010, isn’t it just as damning? Since it would mean by the time he showed up in Albetar’s store to sign autographs in September of 2010, he knew Albetar well enough to know that the jerseys were being sold.
Basically, if you’re willing to hang out in his shop on many, many days, sign many autographs while being photographed doing so, and go out to dinner with the owner either at his expense or yours, how can Alabama reasonably claim that Richardson didn’t know his jerseys and other apparel were being sold? Put simply, Alabama can’t.
Furthermore, in light of Kevin Scarbinsky’s report do we really believe that Richardson gave up his BCS title game jersey to a stranger and allowed him to hang it on the wall while receiving absolutely nothing in return?
Doesn’t that boggle the mind too?
Other aspects of this story don’t make sense either. Why, for instance, did Alabama’s cease and desist letter from December 22 not specify a particular location? And why did that letter not reference, in particular, the jerseys in the windows of T-Town’s Menswear? By allowing those jerseys to remain in the windows for months, there is a strong argument that the players and the unversity countenanced their display, meaning the players would need to be ruled ineligible.
In its initial response to OKTC Alabama made it seem the cease and desist letter had been sent specifically to the store, but that’s not the case. What’s more, is it a coincidence that the date on the letter is the same day that news broke about the Ohio State tattoo parlor? Did Alabama print off a bunch of cease and desist letters for local businesses in a quick attempt to cover its ass?
Based on the photographic evidence we’ve presented in multiple stories on this site we’re talking about over a hundred Alabama football players making hundreds of visits to a local business. While there those players signed jerseys, helmets, footballs, gloves and other football paraphernalia on multiple occasions. According to Alabama much of that paraphernalia then made its way to a kiosk in the same mall where current Crimson Tide player autographed material was sold.
Is Alabama really going to argue that the players didn’t know? If you signed an object in a mall one day and then saw it for sale in that same mall kiosk stand the next day and then continued to sign objects, wouldn’t you lose all ability to claim lack of knowledge?
Especially when we now have evidence that Richardson knew Albetar well enough to go to dinner with him and give him his BCS title game jersey for display?
This story is only deepening, and the silence from both Alabama and Albetar speaks volumes.
What’s more if you think this site has been covering this story aggressively, wait until the national media feeding frenzy commences.
In case you’re just checking in, here is the Suitgate story — as broken by OKTC — in chronological order: