The feud between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher might have another wrinkle to it. A month after the two head coaches exchanged back-and-forth statements about Texas A&M’s recruiting practices regarding name, image and likeness (NIL) deals, the Aggies are once again at the center of speculation following a recent video posted on social media Thursday.
Last month, Nick Saban called out Texas A&M’s recruiting practices, stating that the Aggies “bought every player on their team,” through NIL deals. Fisher promptly responded during a press conference, denying the remarks while questioning Saban’s character.
"You can call me anything you want to call me, but you ain’t calling me a cheat,” Fisher said. “I don’t cheat and I don’t lie. I learned that when I was a kid. If you did, the old man would slap you upside the head. Maybe somebody should have slapped him."
Fisher went on to call Saban’s comments "despicable," stating Texas A&M has never bought players or broken any rules in its recruiting of players. However. A video of a Texas A&M staffer seems to refute that.
The clip shows the staffer pointing to the luxury suits inside Texas A&M’s Kyle Field before stating, “Y’all getting a lot of money from the people behind these suites if you decide to come play here.”
By NCAA rules, colleges are not allowed to use potential NIL deals to recruit players to their programs. Additionally, violations of the established rules are referred to NCAA Bylaw 13.01.2:
• 13.01.2 Institutional Responsibility in Recruitment. A member of an institution's athletics staff or a representative of its athletics interests shall not recruit a prospective student-athlete except as permitted by this Association, the institution and the member conference, if any.
Due to the bylaw in the Division I Manual being established by the NCAA and referred to in its NIL interim policy, the Texas A&M staffer appears to be in violation of said rule due to his addressing of NIL to recruits.
Here is a full breakdown of the NCAA's third-party recruiting guidances on NIL in regard to prospective student-athletes.
• Recruiting conversations between an individual or entity that has triggered booster status (“booster/NIL entity”) and a PSA are not permissible.
• Booster/NIL entity may not communicate (e.g., call, text, direct message) with a PSA, a PSA’s family, or others affiliated with the PSA for a recruiting purpose or to encourage the PSA’s enrollment at a particular institution.
• An NIL agreement between a PSA and a booster/NIL entity may not be guaranteed or promised contingent on initial or continuing enrollment at a particular institution.
• Institutional coaches and staff may not organize, facilitate or arrange a meeting between a booster/NIL entity and a PSA (e.g., provide the individual or entity with a recruiting list or watch list, including the NCAA Transfer Portal).
• Institutional coaches and staff may not communicate directly or indirectly with a PSA on behalf of a booster/NIL entity.
• NIL agreements must be based on an independent, case-by-case analysis of the value that each athlete brings to an NIL agreement as opposed to providing compensation or incentives for enrollment decisions (e.g., signing a letter of intent or transferring), athletic performance (e.g., points scored, minutes played, winning a contest), achievement (e.g., starting position, award winner) or membership on a team (e.g., being on roster).