Alabama coach Nick Saban said Thursday he does not support the SEC's serious misconduct rule, citing previous examples of players improving their behavior upon arriving in the conference, according to AL.com.
The new rule bans SEC schools from accepting transfers who were subject to official disciplinary action at their previous school for domestic abuse or sexual violence. It comes in the wake of former Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor being arrested for domestic violence once at Georgia and then again after transferring to Alabama.
Saban said he doesn't like the rule for several reasons. He argued that some players reform their behavior after transferring, citing two former Auburn quarterbacks: Cam Newton, who was arrested for stealing a laptop while at Florida, and Nick Marshall, who was dismissed from Georgia for violating team rules. Neither Newton nor Marshall was involved in a domestic violence or sexual assault case and therefore would not have been subject to the serious misconduct rule.
Saban also said the SEC shouldn't have different rules from other conferences because "if those players were not allowed to play in the SEC they'd be playing someplace else."
Finally, he said the conference should not pass judgment before a player is convicted, saying "What I see happening a lot is people don't get convicted of things. They're condemned as soon as they get arrested, and I'm not sure that's fair because I don't think that's what our country was really built on."
Here are Saban's full remarks on the subject, via AL.com:
The question Thursday: "Were you in favor of the SEC rule that was passed about banning transfers for players who've had serious misconduct at their previous schools."
"No," Saban said, "but I'm supportive of the league. I understand what they're trying to do, and I was really [looking] to clearly define exactly why—or what—I thought convicted and felonies should be involved in the rule, and I guess I got sort of misinterpreted. But one of the points that I tried to make was Cam Newton being in the SEC and Nick Marshall being in the SEC benefited the SEC, and it benefited those players.
"So if those players were not allowed to play in the SEC they'd be playing someplace else. What I'm most concerned about, I just think that we should have the same rules in the SEC as all the other Big 5 schools have because now we're not just talking about the SEC. We're talking about having a playoff—no different than the NFL. One division in the NFL doesn't have different rules, different salary caps, different anything because the league knows that parity is the best competitive balance that you can create.
"So when we pass rules that other people that we have to compete against — and if that is really what's best for the young people that we're dealing with here, the student-athletes that we're dealing with—then it should be best for everyone, or otherwise we shouldn't do it. So I'm hopeful that some kind of way we'll be able to get the Big 5 together—under the NCAA's supervision—to try to create rules that we all see in the best interest of student-athletes, which I think we need to be thinking about here: Why do we do this? It is to benefit the student-athletes, to promote opportunities for the student-athletes.
"Now, they have a responsibility and obligation to do the right thing. But what I see happening a lot is people don't get convicted of things. They're condemned as soon as they get arrested, and I'm not sure that's fair because I don't think that's what our country was really built on."
- Alex Putterman