Saban criticizes Texas A&M for using NIL offers to buy players

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama coach Nick Saban criticized Texas A&M Wednesday night for “buying” players in his…

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama coach Nick Saban criticized Texas A&M Wednesday night for “buying” players in its top-ranked recruiting class with name, image and likeness deals, and said Crimson Tide players made more than $3 million last year “the right way.”

“I know the fallout is going to be tough for people who are spending tons of money to get players,” Saban said while speaking at an event in Birmingham, Alabama, to promote the World Games to be held there in July.

“You read about it, you know who they are. We were second in recruiting last year. A&M was the first. A&M bought all the players on his team. He made a name, image and likeness deal. We do not buy a player. 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 hard.”

Saban’s comments were first reported by AL.com and echoed some of the points he made in March during an interview with The Associated Press.

The NCAA removed most of its rules that prohibited athletes from making money from endorsement and sponsorship deals last July, but many in college sports are concerned that NIL deals are being used as de facto pay-per-play and recruiting incentives. .

Last week, the NCAA issued guidance for Division I members to clarify its rules against booster participation in the draft.

On Wednesday night, Saban, 70, who has won six national championships, was more specific in his criticism of the current state of college football.

“We have a rule right now that says you can’t use name, image and likeness to entice a player to come to your school. Hell, read it in the paper,” Saban said. “Jackson State paid a guy a million dollars last year who was a really good Division I player to come to the school. He was in the paper and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it.”

Jackson State and coach Deion Sanders landed one of the highest-rated recruits in the country in cornerback Travis Hunter, who had been committed to Florida State until signing day in December.

Sanders has denied that Jackson State made impermissible offers to Hunter to sign with the historically black university that competes in the second tier of Division I football.

“You better believe I’ll address that LIE Coach SABAN said tomorrow,” Sanders tweeted. “We as PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE,” Sanders tweeted.

Saban also referenced Miami donor John Ruiz, a billionaire who has funded NIL deals for numerous Hurricanes athletes.

“Those guys from Miami that are going to play basketball there for $400,000, that’s in the paper,” Saban said. “The guy tells you how he’s doing.”

But the Texas A&M comments were closer to home. The Aggies are a rival to the Southeastern Conference in the Western Division and are managed by former Saban assistant Jimbo Fisher.

The Aggies beat Alabama last season but went 8-4 while the Tide won the SEC and played Georgia for the national championship.

In February, Fisher took on competitors who were fueling rumors that Texas A&M had spent $30 million in NIL deals to land its star-studded recruiting class.

“Clown acts,” Fisher said. “Multiple coaches in our league.”

Saban said he supports players who can capitalize on their fame, citing Alabama’s success.

“I told our players when this whole thing started to get agents, get representation, to create opportunities for yourselves,” he said. “Our players last year created $3 million worth of opportunities for themselves by doing it the right way. I have no problem with that and no one on our team had a problem with it because the guys that got the money earned it. There were only 25 guys on our team that had a chance to make money.”

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