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Alabama football coach Nick Saban went on a lengthy rant against Texas A&M and accused the Aggies of buying players via name, image and likeness (NIL) deals.
Saban, who has liked the emergence of NIL deals and the increased use of the transfer portal to free agency, spoke Wednesday night at a conference in Birmingham and took issue with how Texas A&M was able to attain the No. 1 recruiting class in 2022.
“I know the consequence is going to be difficult for the people who are spending tons of money to get players,” Saban said, via AL.com. “You read about it, you know who they are. We were second in recruiting last year. A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image and likeness.
“We didn’t buy one player. Aight? But I don’t know if we’re going to be able to sustain that in the future, because more and more people are doing it. It’s tough.”
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Jimbo Fisher said in May there had to be “rules and guardrails” when it came to NIL, according to The Eagle. He added “uniform rules, laws and everything that goes with it” should be in place. He denied, however, NIL impacted his players.
Saban accused smaller schools of making big money deals for players. He accused Jackson State of paying a player $1 million to come to the school, referencing Travis Hunter flipping his commitment to the school from Florida State. Tigers head coach Deion Sanders denied that notion.
“We have a rule right now that said you cannot use name, image and likeness to entice a player to come to your school. Hell, read about it in the paper,” Saban said. “I mean, Jackson State paid a guy a million dollars last year that was a really good Division I player to come to school. It was in the paper and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it.”
Saban made clear he has no problem with players being able to make money via NIL deals but had issues with how schools are allegedly exploiting the current system. He said the NCAA can’t enforce their rules “because it’s not against the law.”
DEION SANDERS ON WHY THE NCAA HAS A ‘LITTLE PROBLEM’ WITH SPATE OF NIL DEALS
The legendary college football coach said recruits in Alabama won’t commit to the Crimson Tide unless they match or beat whatever they’re getting from other schools. He said creating and using collectives funded by boosters wasn’t what NIL was supposed to be.
“The thing that I fear is at some point in time, they’re just going to say, ‘We’re going to have to pay players. If we start paying players, we’re going to have to eliminate sports,'” Saban added. “This is all bad for college sports. I mean, we probably have 450 people on scholarship at Alabama, whether they’re women’s tennis players, softball players, golfers, baseball players — non-revenue sports that have, for years and years and years been able to create a better life for themselves because they’ve been able to get scholarships and participate in college athletics.
“That’s what college athletics is supposed to be. It’s not supposed to be something where people come to make money and you make a decision about where you go to school based on how much money you’re going to make. You should make a decision based on where you have the best chance to develop as a person, as a student and as a player, which is what we’ve always tried to major in and we’re going to continue to that. will want to do it.”
Last week, the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors approved guidance developed by a group of college administrators clarifying the types of NIL payments and booster involvement that should be considered recruiting violations.
“Specifically, the guidance defines as a booster any third-party entity that promotes an athletics program, assists with recruiting or assists with providing benefits to recruits, enrolled student-athletes or their family members,” the NCAA said. “The definition could include ‘collectives’ set up to funnel name, image and likeness deals to prospective student-athletes or enrolled student-athletes who might be considering transferring.”
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The new guidance is effective immediately, but the organization neither changed its rules nor created new ones. The NCAA directed enforcement staff to look for possible violations that may have occurred before May 9, 2022, but to “pursue only those actions that clearly are contrary to the published interim policy, including the most severe violations of recruiting rules or payment for athletics performance .”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.