Nick Saban reiterates stance on NIL reform as Alabama coach Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher leaves spat


Alabama coach Nick Saban has been one of the loudest voices in name, image and likeness reform, even as the opportunity for student-athletes to take advantage of their visibility only existed for 11 months. He has argued for streamlining a process heavily governed by individual state laws, which he got into a war of words with Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher earlier this month saying that Texas A&M ‘bought’ its 2022 recruiting class — the best class in 247Sports history.

Saban was asked about this little dust Tuesday at the SEC’s Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., and further apologized for mentioning Texas A&M by name.

“I didn’t really say anyone did anything wrong,” Saban said. “I didn’t say anyone did anything wrong, okay, and I said everything I wanted to say about it. I never should have mentioned individual institutions, and I have already said it.”

Fisher followed on the podium Wednesday and declined to answer questions about the public altercation with Saban. Fisher said he and Saban spoke briefly at the start of the meeting, but talked strictly about business.

“It’s finish” said Fisher. “We’re done talking about it. We’re looking to the future and trying to figure out what needs to be done in college football. We have much more pressing needs than our argument.”

This is the second time Saban has apologized since Fisher’s 10-Minute rant in which, among other things, he called Saban a narcissist.

“We never bought anybody” Fisher said earlier this month. “No rules were broken, nothing was done wrong. These families, it’s despicable that a reputable head coach can come out and say that when he’s not getting what he wants or that things don’t go his way. The narcissist in him doesn’t. I don’t allow those things to happen. It’s ridiculous.

The war of words may have seemed a little childish, but it cemented the idea that safeguards need to be in place for NIL to work as intended. In a roundabout way, the Saban-Fisher feud brought even more into focus the chaos created by the lack of uniform regulation across the board.

That said, several Destin coaches, including Saban, Florida’s Billy Napier and Georgia’s Kirby Smart, reiterated that they’re all for players who enjoy their athletic prowess.

“We need some kind of transparency in name, likeness and likeness agreements to verify that players are doing what they need to do to have the opportunity to earn money in name, likeness and likeness. “said Saban. “And believe me, I’m all for players earning as much as they can earn, okay. But I also think we need to have a consistent and transparent way of doing that. Our players have done extremely well. last year in name and image and likeness because they had agents, they were represented, they had people who wanted them to endorse something for them, and they were very, very successful. It’s public domain, and you can see how successful they have been.

The NIL era also gave more voice to the people surrounding high school and college athletes. Parents and high school coaches have always been important, but now agents, marketing companies and managers have more seats at the table.

“Student-athletes need some protection against unfair representation or matching of name, image and likeness,” Saban said. “You could have a player – and it’s happened to us in the past – who thinks he’s signing one thing and he’s signing another thing and giving up his freedom of choice in the future as to who represents him. We don’t have no oversight at this time for players on this.”

It’s clear the coaches are upset with the way NIL has been deployed, and they’re not afraid to push for change. It will be interesting to see how this is handled in the future. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to push the federal government for action, which may be where it’s at. would end if the power brokers of college athletics couldn’t come together on releasing it.


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