Nick Saban from Alabama takes a closer look at NIL that got out of hand: ‘[Texas] A&M bought every player on their team’

Texas A&M’s top-ranked recruiting class in 2022 has long been on the receiving end of rumors about how exactly Coach Jimbo Fisher drew more five-star prospects in one class than he had in his entire Aggies stint prior to this off-season. That’s life for college football’s elite recruiting programs. However, on Wednesday night, Alabama coach Nick Saban said the quiet part out loud — and it wasn’t nearly the only thing he had to get off his chest.

During a 50-day countdown event for the World Games, Saban spoke about how name, image and likeness (NIL) has influenced the game. He did not take any punches during the trial. In particular, Saban went straight to Texas A&M as an example of what’s wrong with NIL, bluntly accusing the Aggies of buying their recruits through NIL deals.

“It’s going to be difficult for the people who spend tons of money to get players,” Saban said as part of a 7-minute answer to a question about NIL that was taped and published by AL.com. “You’ve read about them. You know who they are. Last year we were second in the recruitment. [Texas] A&M was the first.

“A&M bought every player on their team — made a deal for name, image and likeness. We didn’t buy one player. But I don’t know if we can keep that going in the future, because more and more people are doing it.”

Calling NIL “a great concept for players,” Saban noted that Alabama football players “have created $3 million in opportunities for themselves over the past year by doing it the right way.” “And I have no problem with that, and nobody on our team had a problem with that because the guys who got the money deserved it,” he added. “There were only 25 guys on our team who had the opportunity to make money.”

This isn’t the first time Texas A&M has been hit with barbs regarding its elite class, though previous allegations have come mostly anonymously from college football fans — not from the mouth of the the best coach of sports† Fisher, a former Saban aide, commented on the idea that NIL played a role in his program’s recruiting success when asked about it during National Signature Day in February.

“This $30 million deal is a joke. This thing that there’s a fund and it’s written on BroBible by a guy called ‘Sliced ​​Bread’ and all of a sudden the country believes it, it’s a joke,” Fisher said on CBS Sports HQ† “It didn’t affect the recruitment at all. The people who wanted to comment on it have no idea what’s going on. It’s insulting to the players who come here and the people around us.”

Saban’s comments Friday night weren’t just aimed at Texas A&M. During his 7-minute answer, he even provided a clear perspective on NIL, including the significant benefits to players and potentially disastrous unintended consequences for college sports as a whole.

Here’s what else the Crimson Tide coach had to say on the subject.

NCAA enforcement is in a nearly impossible position

The Board of Directors of the NCAA new NIL guidelines issued this month with the intention of cracking down on outside booster collectives disguising pay-for-play deals as NIL. While the guidelines are intended to handle individual cases in the future, the NCAA said it could pursue “the most outrageous violations that clearly violate the interim policy passed last summer.” Saban explained why those guidelines are difficult to enforce.

“People are blaming the NCAA, but in defense of the NCAA we are where we are because of the lawsuits the NCAA is facing. [for] the transfer portal. If the NCAA doesn’t get protection from lawsuits — whether we should get an antitrust? [exemption] or whatever it is from the federal government’s standpoint — this isn’t going to change because they can’t enforce their rules. †

“Jackson State paid a man $1 million last year who was a really good Division I player to come to their school. It was in the paper and they were bragging about it. Nobody was doing anything about it. These guys in Miami who go to pay basketball there for $400,000 It’s in the paper The guy tells you how he does it But the NCAA can’t enforce their rules because it’s not against the law and that’s a problem That’s a problem Unless we have something to protect them from lawsuits, I don’t know what we’re going to do about it.”

NIL without enforcement endangers university sports

Saban also reiterated his stern warning in April about NIL’s sustainability in college football when he asked if “that’s what we want college football to be.” He’s not alone in raising those concerns, but with NIL deals already rife in college athletics, adapting to this world seems like the only option — difficult as it may be.

“It’s not our job to buy you to come to school here. I don’t know how to run a locker room – and I don’t know if this is a sustainable model. I know we’re going to lose recruits because someone else will be willing to pay them more. …

“What I’m afraid of is that at some point they’re just going to say, ‘We’re going to have to pay players.’ If we’re going to pay players, we’ll have to abolish sports, and this is all bad for college sports.

“We probably have 450 people with scholarships [in total] in Alabama. … Non-Income Sports [athletes] who have been able to create a better life for themselves for years and years and years because they have been able to get scholarships and participate in college athletics. This is how athletics should be in college. It’s not about people coming to make money and you’re making a decision about where to go to school based on how much money you’re going to make.”

Unregulated collectives are a big problem

Saban explained that collectives, which originated as intermediaries for players to receive NIL benefits from boosters and alumni, are perhaps the most important element of NIL that needs to be regulated to create a level playing field.

“The problem and the problem with name, image and likeness is that coaches are trying to create an advantage for themselves. They went out and said, ‘Okay, how can we use this to our advantage?’ They created what is called a “collective”… an outside marketing agency that is not tied to the university and is funded by university alumni… That marketing agency then forwards it to the players. The coach actually knows how much money is there is in the collective, so he knows how much he can promise each player. That’s not what name, image and likeness should have been. That’s what it has become, and that’s the problem in university athletics right now. …

“Now in recruiting we have players in our state who grew up and wanted to come to Alabama, they won’t commit to us unless we say we’re going to give them what someone else is going to give them. My theory on that is all we’ve done in college athletics has always been the same. [Saban refers to scholarships, cost of attendance, etc.] … I said to our players: ‘We get a collective, but everyone gets an equal number of opportunities from that collective.'”

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