Alabama’s Nick Saban wants NIL change, fears ‘situation where you can basically buy players’

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Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday he was upset with the current name, image and likeness (NIL) system in college football and likened it to buying players.

Saban told the Associated Press the NCAA’s current way of doing business is unsustainable.

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban talks with players during a timeout in the first half of a game against Auburn Nov. 27, 2021, in Auburn, Ala.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban talks with players during a timeout in the first half of a game against Auburn Nov. 27, 2021, in Auburn, Ala.
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

“The concept of name, image and likeness was for players to be able to use their name, image and likeness to create opportunities for themselves. That’s what it was,” Saban said. “So last year, on our team, our guys probably made as much or more than anybody in the country.”

Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young had an endorsement deal with a local BMW dealer, Jameson Williams had a deal with Bose and Kool-Aid McKinstry inked a deal with Kool-Aid.

NIL deals have been intertwined with recruiting with the college transfer portal hotter than ever.

“But that creates a situation where you can basically buy players,” Saban added. “You can do it in recruiting. I mean, if that’s what we want college football to be, I don’t know. And you can also get players to get in the transfer portal to see if they can get more someplace else than they can get at your place.”

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks to an official during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship game against Georgia Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Saban said he supported players being compensated but added there is an issue with players free to move from school to school without repercussion.

“We now have an NFL model with no contracts, but everybody has free agency,” he said. “It’s fine for players to get money. I’m all for that. I’m not against that. But there also has to be some responsibility on both ends, which you could call a contract. So that you have an opportunity to develop people in a way that’s going to help them be successful.”

Saban is one of the highest-paid state employees making around $10 million last season. He’s guided Alabama to six national championships.

“So there’s going to have to be some changes implemented, some kind of way to still create a level playing field,” he said. “And there is no salary cap. So whatever school decides they want to pay the most, they have the best chance to have the best team. And that’s never been college football, either.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban watches players warm up for the College Football Playoff championship against Georgia Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis.

Alabama coach Nick Saban watches players warm up for the College Football Playoff championship against Georgia Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis.
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

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Saban said he would support everyone on his team getting equal treatment instead of creating what he called a “caste system.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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