Whether or not you think college football players should be able to make money or not, the current rules prevent athletes from making any money from their status as college athletes.

However, according to a new report from Sports Illustrated, several members of Bama’s 2009 national championship team were paid for their autographs on various pieces of memorabilia.

Star DL Terrence Cody was the biggest name mentioned by Luke Winn’s report, which involved memorabilia dealers Cliff Panezich and Adam Bollinger.

As you can see in the section of the story below (the full report can be found here), Panezich and Bollinger said former Crimson Tide CB Marquis Johnson helped them facilitate the signings:

Panezich and Bollinger arrived in Tuscaloosa during winter break, when the football team wasn’t practicing, so finding players required improvisation. The first member of the Crimson Tide they say they encountered—and asked to sign, outside of a dorm—was cornerback Marquis Johnson. The two collectors had 40-odd white-paneled footballs, each emblazoned with Alabama’s logo, laid out in the rear bed of their SUV, and “[Johnson] signed a few,” Panezich says. “[He] talked about getting paid to do the rest. . . . We paid him up front and . . . he recruited everybody else to come and sign. He’d go into the dorm, grab a couple guys—$20, $30, $40, depending on who the player was—and they’d all come sign 40 team items.”

The report goes on to say a lot of players signed the memorabilia, but not everyone — including QB Greg McElroy — took the money, citing eligibility concerns:

Panezich says Johnson was paid roughly $200, but “not everyone took money. [Defensive tackle] Terrence Cody was probably the biggest. He got paid to sign all the team stuff—and then we heard he was interested in making some more money. So he came out and signed a bunch of mini helmets that he inscribed, like 2X ALL-AMERICAN, or 2 BLOCKED FGS AGAINST TENNESSEE, very specific stuff.” Panezich recalls that they paid Cody around $400 total. (SI obtained cellphone video from Panezich that shows Johnson, fellow cornerback Rod Woodson and tight end Colin Peek autographing items; Panezich says that Peek, as well as running back Ali Sharrief and QB Greg McElroy, signed but declined compensation in order to comply with NCAA rules.

Obviously, as such a prominent figure in this story, Johnson had a response, which his agent issued below:

Cody, through his agent, declined to comment. Says Johnson: “I never got paid. I don’t know [Panezich].” Woodson could not be reached for comment. When asked if the school had knowledge of the signings, an Alabama spokesman said, in part, “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.”)

Obviously, this situation happened eight years ago, so it is unclear what, if anything, the NCAA will do about it. However, it’s certainly not a good look for the Crimson Tide, even if it’s silly that players can’t make money from their own autograph.