Alabama’s Sa­ban has some harsh words for sports agents,

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By John Zenor

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.”

Butch Dill

Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban, speak­ing Wed­nes­day at SEC me­dia days, said greedy agents are prey­ing on young ath­letes.

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