How much is an old Missouri athletic department cell phone worth?

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

There are all kind of trinkets that are valuable to sports memorabilia collectors.

But how about this for an ultimate conversation starter -- a cellular phone that was once used by Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel, men's basketball coach Mike Anderson and other members of the school's athletic department?

Columbia resident Mike Bellman thought he was buying a box of old cell phones he hoped to resell as parts. Instead, he would up with a collection of electronic information from Missouri's athletic department, according to the Columbia Tribune.

Photos of Anderson's phone show text messages between Anderson and Pinkel and Missouri athletic director Mike Alden.

What made the purchase especially sticky for Missouri athletic department officials was the phones were never cleared before they were sold. They have hundreds of contact phone numbers, e-mails and text messages still on them.

Bellman told the Tribune he bought the phones at a university surplus sale. According to an e-mail exchange between Bellman and the Athletics Department acquired by the Tribune, Bellman paid $190 for the phones.

Bellman said he offered to sell the phones to the department for the price he believes they would have brought as workable phones and parts on eBay. According to an e-mail exchange, he estimated the market value at about $1,000.

The school wouldn't budge on their original $190 offer, which is why the phones are available on the open market.

Bellman believes the phones are worth plenty to Missouri sports fans.

“There’s going to be somebody very interested in this stuff as collectible items,” he told the Tribune. “I’m looking for that crazy collector who wants to take these phones and read about what happened when it happened.”

Bellman is offering the phones to Columbia and Tigers fans first. But if they don’t sell by later this week, the collection will be auctioned off on eBay.

“I was going to put them on eBay first, but I thought I probably better offer them to Columbia first,” he said. “There are people who like to do opposition research. I imagine there are people in 11 other cities that would love to get hold of this stuff.”

Somewhere, I bet Pinkel and Anderson -- among others -- are cringing about these products being available on the open market.