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Alabama's Nick Saban blasts NIL marketplace, says "You can basically buy players"

Alabama's veteran head man sounds off on changes in the game

Nick Saban, who’s ruled his Alabama program in an iron-fisted vice grip across the past 15 seasons, largely lording over college football in a similar manner throughout that time, has come out in strong opposition to the current state of his sport, specifically as it pertained to the onset of the new Name, Image & Likeness era of college athletics where student-athletes have been cleared to earn compensation based on their personal brands.

Saban, among the highest-paid coaches in any sport with a package worth more than $10 million annually, bared his feelings in an interview with the Associated Press where he declared “I don’t think what we’re doing right now is a sustainable model.”

“That creates a situation where you can basically buy players,” Saban said of utilizing NIL opportunities as an enticement to secure a player’s services ahead of his arrival at a program. “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."

Sources with direct knowledge told FootballScoop that consensus five-star quarterback prospect Nico Iamaleava, who last month committed to the University of Tennessee, already had secured the services of a personal attorney to help represent him in his endorsement opportunities, has engaged the Knoxville-based and University of Tennessee alumni-funded Spyre Sports Group.

Executives from that company have met directly with Iamaleava in both Knoxville and in his California home; Iamaleava, per sources, is the subject of the story first reported by The Athletic of a 2023 prospect who has secured an NIL contract package potentially worth $7-8 million.

Saban declared that the NIL concept already has strayed vastly away from its intended purpose.

“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.”