Report: Former Alabama players took money for autographs

By The Sports Xchange  |  Nov. 7, 2017 at 1:21 PM
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Two players from Alabama's 2009 national championship team accepted cash in exchange for signing their names to memorabilia, Sports Illustrated reported.

Cliff Panezich, who sold signed sports memorabilia, told the magazine that he and associate Adam Bollinger paid Crimson Tide players Marquis Johnson and Terrence Cody $200 and $400, respectively, in December 2009.

Johnson denied that he was paid for his autograph and told Sports Illustrated that he did not know Panezich. Cody, through his agent, declined comment.

Other players mentioned in the report include cornerback Rod Woodson and tight end Colin Peek. Defensive back Ali Sharrief and quarterback Greg McElroy were also included in the story, although Panezich said those two declined compensation in order to comply with NCAA rules.

Panezich and Bollinger told the magazine that they waited for players outside of the athletic dormitories during winter break, which came in between the Crimson Tide's SEC Championship win over Florida and before their BCS National Championship game against Texas. Panezich and Bollinger said they met Johnson, who then allegedly recruited others to participate.

"As part of our comprehensive compliance and education program, we routinely review all situations of potential concern and address matters such as these with all of our student-athletes," an Alabama university spokesman told Sports Illustrated.

Panezich pleaded guilty in December 2016 to aggravated theft, identity fraud, telecommunications fraud, money laundering, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and three counts of forgery with a forfeiture specification. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

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