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Deion Sanders Issues Warning to Nick Saban After Recent NIL Comments

Deion Sanders is considered as one of the greatest athletes and top cornerbacks in NFL history. When the Hall of Famer became Jackson State’s football coach, he stated he was going to “level the playing field for HBCUs” and “prove there is a highway that takes you from JSU all the way to the NFL.”

After his first full season last fall, one in which JSU captured its first SWAC title since 2007 and its first 11-win season in program history, Sanders wasn’t done. He added more fuel to “leveling” the college football landscape conversation when Travis Hunter, one of the top recruits in the country, flipped his commitment from Florida State to JSU in December.

With Hunter’s decision and the sweeping impact of name, image and likeness playing a pivotal role in athletes’ choices of where they play college football, prominent football coaches in Power 5 conferences like Alabama’s Nick Saban believes JSU “paid a player a million dollars” to play for the Tigers’ program.

Dellenger: The NCAA Approval of NIL Guidelines Signals a Crackdown on Boosters Could Be Coming

When Sanders responded to Saban’s comments on Thursday evening, saying that he felt it should be a “public” instead of a “private” conversation between the two, he acknowledged the history behind players at various schools receiving funds and assistance from boosters and collectives long before NIL was in place.

“I don’t even wear a watch and I know what time it is,” Sanders told ESPN’s Andscape. “They forget I know who’s been bringing the bag and dropping it off. I know this stuff. I’m not the one you want to play with when it comes to all of this stuff.”

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Saban has since apologized for his comments. While he did not specifically call out Hunter by name in the initial statement, it was clear that he was the player to which Saban was referring. 

Sanders noted that he does not make a million-dollar salary as JSU’s football coach and reiterated that Hunter is not making more than him. “Travis [Hunter] ain’t built like that. Travis ain’t chasing a dollar. Travis is chasing greatness,” Sanders said.

According to Andscape, Hunter reportedly has two NIL deals and two pending worth less than $250,000.

Sanders has much respect for Saban, calling him the “magna cum laude” of college football. However, according to Sanders, Saban “took a left when he should’ve stayed right” in his latest comments. “I’m sure he’ll get back on course. I ain’t tripping.”

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