When word first broke of the Jimmy Johns pit bull website, I was afraid that if it were legitimate that he would be having some NCAA issues. And according to the latest article by Tide Sports, that is indeed correct.
Under NCAA rules, student-athletes are allowed to establish a business but cannot use their “name, photograph, appearance or athletics reputation” to promote the business. Bylaw 220.127.116.11 states that a student-athlete will lose eligibility if he “accepts any remuneration for or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.”
In other words, Johns using his name and likeness to help promote his upstart pit bull business was a violation of NCAA rules, and would have cost him his eligibility retroactive to when the site began (apparently in March of 2008).
The issue is a moot point now for Alabama, because ultimately nothing ever came of it. Johns' loss of eligibility is an issue solely between him and the NCAA, and it would have never became an issue unless UA became aware of the situation and allowed him to compete athletically anyway. Obviously, given Johns' arrest for cocaine distribution, he never was able to play while ineligible, and more to the point, according to UA Athletic Department spokesman Jeff Purinton the university did not find out about the situation until yesterday.
Also according to the same article, Johns bought two pit bulls from a breeder in Montgomery. Those breeders went on the record as stating that none of their dogs are used for fighting, and denied that the dogs were used for any illegal activity. According to the same statement, the breeders checked on the two dogs that Johns purchased and found them to be healthy and well cared for. So, at least Johns apparently wasn't doing any dog fighting or anything of that nature, my speculation would be that he was probably using them either as pets or as security, or both, or simply as a way to make a few more bucks. Though the web site was set up for the sale of pit bulls, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that he ever actually sold one of the pit bulls. He bought two, and he apparently had those same two at the time of his arrest several months after the initial purchase.
Anyway, again, it's all a moot point in this situation. Johns was dismissed immediately when all of this was found out, and he never played in any athletic contests while ineligible. However, it should reinforce the fact that we may have dodged a bullet with this one. Make no mistake about it, Jimmy Johns lost his collegiate eligibility the second that web site went up, and had he played in any football games this season we could have found ourselves in hot water with the NCAA. I am, of course, fully convinced that our compliance department would have properly dealt with the situation when the news first broke with Johns regarding the site, and would have swiftly banned him for participating any further (which shouldn't create any issues for the university), but you know how dealing with the NCAA goes. Bottom line, you always want to stay as far away from them as possible, and Johns still being on the football field would have brought the two parties much closer.
Again, thankfully that's not an issue any more. We may very well have dodged a bullet yesterday with the dismissal of Jimmy Johns.