- The Washington Times
Thursday, May 19, 2022

Nick Saban isn’t happy about the current college football recruiting landscape.

The Alabama football coach on Wednesday expressed his displeasure with name, image and likeness rules in the NCAA, and he named a few examples that he thinks crossed the line. The first was Texas A&M, an SEC school that enters the 2022 season with the nation’s top recruiting class.

“I mean, we were second in recruiting last year,” Saban said during an event with business leaders in Birmingham, Alabama. “A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team — made a deal for name, image, likeness. We didn’t buy one player, all right? But I don’t know if we’re gonna be able to sustain that in the future because more and more people are doing it. It’s tough.”

Saban also called out Jackson State, claiming the program, led by coach Deion Sanders, paid a player $1 million. The player is five-star prospect Travis Hunter who switched his commitment from Florida State to Jackson State, an HBCU, in December. 

“I mean, Jackson State paid a guy $1 million last year that was a really good Division I player to come to the school,” Saban said. “It was in the paper, and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it.”

Sanders denied Saban’s claim on Twitter Wednesday.

“You best believe I will address that LIE Coach SABAN told tomorrow,” Sanders tweeted. “I was & awakened by my son @ShedeurSanders that sent me the article stating that WE PAYED @TravisHunterJr a Million to play at @GoJSUTigersFB! We as a PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE.”

Less than a year with the new rules, NIL deals are now commonplace for NCAA athletes. Last summer, a Supreme Court ruling prompted the NCAA to allow athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness while competing. However, the NCAA prohibits paying players directly. 

Saban said 25 Alabama players last year made a total of $3 million in NIL money, adding that his players did it the “right way.” 

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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