BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-A furious Birmingham tire dealer is seeing red-and not just because of his business dealings with the University of Alabama's ``Crimson Tide'' sports teams. Boyd Sutherland, owner of BoJo's Mag Wheel & Accessories, said comments he made to an Associated Press (AP) reporter were ``misquoted and taken out of context,'' making it appear he had done ``favors'' for several university athletes in violation of NCAA guidelines.
The AP reported that he had let UA players buy tires and wheels on credit with the understanding they wouldn't have to pay. Mr. Sutherland said that account was false.
In August, the athletic association placed the school's football team on three years' probation for rules violations.
Mr. Sutherland has not been contacted by the NCAA.
The AP reporter ``screwed it up from here to yonder'' in reporting his dealings with Crimson Tide basketball and football players, he said.
``I would never let a player have (tires or wheels) with the understanding he wasn't going to pay for them. That's bull——!''
In an Aug. 9 AP report, he was quoted as saying: ``I'm just a diehard Alabama fan. That's exactly why I did it. You don't think I'd do it for somebody from Auburn or Georgia Tech, do you?''
Newspapers across the U.S. ran the story, he said, and the quote was taken out of context.
``What it looks like to me is, all of these writers across the country, they'll take one line and write a story on one line and they don't know anything about it,'' he said.
Contrary to the report, he told TIRE BUSINESS he has always allowed customers to buy on credit. ``. . . I've done it for `John Q. Public,' '' he said. ``I've done it for hundreds of people in my lifetime.''
But he did admit to poor judgment on his part for extending credit to the ``wrong people.'' While the majority of athletes he has given credit to have paid their bills, because some of the players have not, he has had to buy their contracts from the finance company with which he deals.
In all, as many as 20 players owe him about $5,000 for overdue accounts-the longest being about two years-and he just wants his money.
``If you don't pay me, I'm coming after you,'' Mr. Sutherland vowed. ``I'm just like any other businessman.''
In fact, he said he has tried to have arrest warrants issued for UA players who owe him money, but police told him it's just a matter of ``bad business.''
He said he has also spoken on many occasions to Gerald Jack, UA assistant athletic director, to try to clear up the matter, and ``Coach Jack's done everything in his power.''
Jay Reeves, the Birmingham correspondent who wrote the story, told TIRE BUSINESS the AP stands by its report.