Alabama’s Saban has some harsh words for sports agents,
HOOVER, Ala. — Nick Saban didn’t pull punches Wednesday when discussing the improper contact with athletes by unscrupulous agents, comparing their behavior to that of a “pimp.”
The Alabama coach was upset about the rash of recent agent-related incidents that have resulted in NCAA investigations at several Southeastern Conference schools.
“I don’t think it’s anything but greed that’s creating it right now on behalf of the agents,” Saban said in a rant at the SEC media days. “The agents that do this — and I hate to say this, but how are they any better than a pimp?
“I have no respect for people who do that to young people. None. How would you feel if they did it to your child?”
Three SEC teams — Florida, Alabama and South Carolina — are investigating allegations involving improper contact with an agent. Saban and SEC commissioner Mike Slive both emphatically said it was time for a change to NCAA rules governing agents.
Saban confirmed that Alabama is looking into a trip defensive end Marcell Dareus took to an agent’s party at Miami’s South Beach. South Carolina is looking into claims from the same South Beach party with tight end Weslye Saunders.
Georgia associate athletic director Claude Felton confirmed that the NCAA requested permission Wednesday afternoon to conduct an inquiry on the Bulldogs’ campus. He would not say what the inquiry was about or whether it was related to the South Beach party.
Florida and the NCAA are reportedly investigating whether offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey — now an NFL rookie with the Pittsburgh Steelers — received $100,000 from a sports agent’s representative between the SEC championship game and the Sugar Bowl.
Pouncey denied the allegation.
“I did not accept $100,000, it is an absolutely ridiculous claim,” he said in a statement through his attorney.
Saban said he wants the NFL Players Association to get involved and suspend agents whose dealings help cost players eligibility, send- ing a message through their bank accounts.
“That’s the only way we’re going to stop this happening, because it’s ridiculous and it’s entrapment for young people at a very difficult time in their life,” the former Miami Dolphins coach said. “It’s very difficult for the NCAA to control it, and it’s very unfair to college football.”
Florida coach Urban Meyer said it’s impossible for a coach to keep agents or their “runners” off campus and said they need to be “severely punished” by either state laws or the NFL for wrongdoing.
“It’s epidemic right now,” he said. “It’s always been there, but I think we’ve reached a point where the magnitude of college football is really overwhelming.”
The NFL itself, though, seems unlikely to get involved. Told of Meyer’s comments, league spokesman Greg Aiello noted in an e-mail exchange with The Associated Press: “The agents are regulated by the union.”
NFLPA assistant executive director George Atallah wrote in an e-mail to the AP: “We take violations of NFLPA rules by agents seriously and investigate them vigilantly. This situation is no different.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban, speaking Wednesday at SEC media days, said greedy agents are preying on young athletes.