Some members of the University of Alabama’s 2009 national championship football team took cash for autographs on footballs and other memorabilia items, according to a story by Sports Illustrated that was published Monday.
Cliff Panezich, who was later sentenced to six years after pleading guilty to eight felonies – including money laundering – on charges stemming from a sports memorabilia fraud scam, alleged in the article that he and another man paid “more than $1,000 to players” including Terrence Cody, Marquis Johnson and Rod Woodson to have them autograph items that were later put up for sale on eBay.
The transactions occurred over the course of around a week in December of 2008, when the team wasn’t practicing during winter break, according to the story.
Johnson was paid “roughly $200,” according to the story, and helped find other players to autograph items. Cody made the most, “around $400,” the story said. Most were paid between $20 and $40.
Greg McElroy, Colin Peek and Ali Sharrief signed items but refused to take money because they didn’t want to violate NCAA rules, the story said.
Panezich told SI that after he “barely made a profit” on the Tuscaloosa trip, he began forging autographs on sports memorabilia, including Alabama footballs.
Johnson denied to SI that he knows Panezich. Cody declined comment through his agent and Woodson was not reached for comment.
The entire story on Panezich’s sports memorabilia fraud operation can be found at SI.com.