Monday, July 4, 2022

Texas A&M urged SEC to punish Nick Saban after controversial NIL comments directed toward Aggies program

The war of words between Alabama coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher is in the rearview mirror, but the fallout continues. According to records obtained by On3, Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork and school president M. Katherine Banks sent a strongly worded email to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey the morning after Saban accused Texas A&M of “buying” its 2022 recruiting class, urging the conference to consider a suspension and fine for the Alabama coach.

“Coach Saban’s statement is false, beneath the dignity of the SEC, and corrosive to the fabric of sportsmanship in college football as a whole and especially within the SEC,” the email read. “We expect the league to take strong, public action against Coach Saban and the University of Alabama to demonstrate that such unprofessionalism and disrespect for Texas A&M’s student-athletes, coaches, and the university as a whole, will not be tolerated. A public apology from Coach Saban to Coach Fisher, Aggie Football, and Texas A&M University is a good starting point, but the league should also consider monetary and participation penalties against Coach Saban.”

Banks and Bjork pointed out that Saban’s comments at a Birmingham-area business leaders convention were a direct violation of SEC rules.

“Coach Saban’s statement was a blatant violation of SEC bylaws regarding sportsmanship,” the email read. “More significantly, without citing any facts to support his statement, Coach Saban is accusing every, single player in Texas A&M’s recruiting class and current football team of violating NCAA name, image and likeness (NIL) guidelines and Texas state law.”

Fisher objected to Saban’s statement, the morning after the comments were made, in an emphatic, 10-minute rant that looked more like a WWE challenge than a college football press conference.

“It’s despicable that we have to sit here at this level of ball and say these things to defend the people of this organization, the kids, 17-year-old kids and their families,” Fisher said. “It’s amazing. Some people think they’re God. Go dig into how God did his deal. You may find out about a lot of things you don’t want to know.”

The SEC publicly reprimanded Saban and Fisher for their comments last month, confirming that the two did violate conference bylaws on “ethical conduct for derogatory comments and public criticism of another institution’s athletics program and staff.”

The entire dust-up stems from rumors that Texas A&M’s 2022 recruiting class — the best recruiting class of all time, according to 247Sports — was acquired, in part, due to a concerted NIL effort designed to beef up the Aggies roster. The feud between the two national championship-winning coaches has ramped up since the Aggies topped Alabama 41-38 last year in College Station. That win by Fisher marked the first time in 25 tries that a former Saban assistant defeated the legendary Crimson Tide coach. 

The revelation that Texas A&M urged such strong punishment for Saban in regard to his comments will only add more intrigue to what is already one of the most anticipated SEC West matchups of the 2022 season. Alabama and Texas A&M are set to meet on Saturday, Oct. 8 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 

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