A jersey and other football gear that belonged to John Hardin High School defensive tackle Matt Elam were removed from an eBay auction Tuesday afternoon after news of the sale spread and the seller said he regretted posting the items without Elam’s permission.
Kenneth Stevens, who has known Elam for about three years and whose son also plays on the John Hardin football team, said Elam had “no idea” that he was selling any of the equipment he gave to Stevens as a gift — with no compensation — after he got home from this month’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.
Elam’s practice jersey, pants, cleats and travel bag from the All-American Bowl had been on sale for $300 on eBay since Friday, but Stevens canceled the auction about 1:50 p.m. EST Tuesday after a link to the sale spread on Twitter.
Stevens has dozens of pieces of sports memorabilia, of college and professional athletes, for sale on eBay under the seller nickname “thesofasurfer.”
Stevens said he had hoped the sale, in which he described Elam “as a great person” and one of the best players in Kentucky, would only bring positive attention to Elam. But Elam, who is a top recruiting target of the University of Kentucky and the University of Alabama, called him Tuesday afternoon to tell him he was upset and had been flooded with calls asking him about it.
If a college prospect were to profit from the sale of his own sports equipment — and Stevens claims Elam did not and never would have — it would violate NCAA amateurism rules.
“I thought I was doing him a service by showing off his name and bragging on him, but what I was doing was a disservice because people took it the wrong way,” Stevens said. “He’s a good guy. He didn’t do anything. He’s got a big heart, and he’s getting painted like he’s trying to profit. That’s not the case at all.”
A call to Elam’s cell phone was not answered, and a text message wasn’t immediately returned.
Stevens requested last fall that Elam give him some Army Bowl memorabilia because he’s a big collector and said Elam ended up giving him everything he’d received as a participant of the game.
“He knows I collect stuff, but I don’t think he’s ever looked at me on eBay,” Stevens said. “I should have asked him. It’s my fault as far as that. He just said, ‘I’m getting all kinds of phone calls of them accusing me of stuff.’ I’m like, ‘I’m sorry.'”
Stevens said he ended the auction because he didn’t want Elam to be suspected of selling memorabilia the way that former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was in 2011.