Nick Saban said players' benefits extend beyond scholarships, including large budgets for training. (Butch Dill/AP)
Nick Saban supports the rights of student-athletes, even if that means some form of compensation in the future.
In light of last week's decision by the National Labor Relations Board -- which ruled Northwestern student-athletes to be employees of the university and granted them the right to form a union -- the Alabama coach offered his take on players' rights after the Crimson Tide's practice on Monday, per Michael Casagrande of AL.com:
"I've always been an advocate of players' rights. I've always been an advocate of players being compensated the best that we can to help them," Saban said. "Whatever the NCAA rule is and whatever they decide to do, I've always been an advocate of the player and the quality of life that a player has. I think that having a voice in what happens, I think, is something that the players probably ought to have."
"And I'm really not opposed to that at all. I do think that it's not what it seems."
A group of Wildcats football players first sought the right to unionize to bring attention to the rights of student-athletes, especially concerning renewable scholarships and the full cost of attendance, as well as a number of other issues. While Saban said he is a fan of players' rights, he believes the dollar amount of a scholarship doesn't paint the full picture of the benefits that student-athletes receive.
"How much do we actually reinvest in quality of support staff to help develop players that may have a chance to go on and play at the next level, have great college careers, have a chance to win a championship," Saban said. "Pretty significant budget around here, that if you look at it, it really is invested back in the players.
"I don't think that the players just receive a scholarship. I think a lot of players really realize that, understand that and appreciate that. We can't pay them but we can reinvest in trying to help them be successful in their future, which I think we do a marvelous job here at the University of Alabama. I think a lot of people do. I think that's what makes great programs. I think that's why players want to come and be a part of the program, because we do reinvest in the future and their chances of being successful, and we do care. And it's not just about football."