Alabama's long history of unpunished NCAA violations under Nick Saban

Submitted by Diagonal Blue on December 9th, 2018 at 12:06 PM

It's time to either pay the players or have powerful people in college football start talking and exposing Alabama and Nick for what they are because this is getting silly. College football isn't fun anymore. This is John Wooden/UCLA/Sam Gilbert all over again. You can't sign the #1 recruiting class every year for a decade and not be breaking the rules. Yes, success begets success and kids want to play for a winner, but it defies logic how a coach who went 6-6, 6-5, 7-5, 6-6, 9-2, 8-4, 10-3, 8-5, 13-1, 9-3, and then bombed in the NFL showed up at a school with a long history of NCAA infraction cases who wasn't relevant for a decade and turned them into the greatest powerhouse in the history of CFB overnight. Now NCAA president Mark Emmert was the chancellor at LSU who hired Saban and he's allowed him to operate brazenly and with full immunity since. 

Alabama has 24 commits right now, 23 of them are 4 or 5 stars. They are going to land at least 4-5 more 5 stars if current recruiting intel holds. This is a monopoly of talent never seen in CFB before, and anyone who thinks they are doing this above board is out of their mind. These are just a few of the stories that have trickled into the public over the years under Saban. Mind you this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The have a car program:

Their players accept money from runners:

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Five Southeastern Conference football players, including former Alabama All-American tackle D.J. Fluker, allegedly received impermissible benefits prior to completing their collegiate careers. According to a Yahoo! Sports report, former Alabama defensive end Luther Davis acted as an intermediary between the players and multiple NFL agents and financial advisers. The report says Davis funneled money and benefits totaling $45,500 to Fluker, Tennessee starting defensive end Maurice Couch, former Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray, and former Mississippi State playersFletcher Cox and Chad Bumphis. The allegations would violate NCAA bylaw, which prohibits athletes from receiving extra benefits from prospective agents or marketing representatives. The violation could impact Fluker's eligibility and potentially the Alabama wins he participated in, including the 2012 Discover BCS National Championship. A second Yahoo! Sports report alleges that former Alabama safety Mark Barron accepted money while he was recovering from a shoulder injury as a junior in 2011 that kept him from declaring for the NFL draft. Text messages obtained by the website show that Barron was asked to repay money after signing with a competing sports agency. Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday he supports the school's compliance department and then refused to answer further questions on the matter.

They've been accused of paying players by NFL agents:

Sports agent Ralph Cindrich was asked about the harsh penalties the NCAA brought down on Penn State and whether he agreed with them or not. He did hammer the NCAA for their decision making, calling NCAA president Mark Emmert a “bozo”, but he sidetracked, accusing Alabama coach Nick Saban of cheating. Cindrich was asked who is monitoring the NCAA, and he had the following to say: “That’s a very good question,” he said. “No one’s watching them. You want to know who’s watching them? Nick Saban. You want to trust Nick Saban? I have enough on Saban right now – and I realize this stuff gets out, and I also realize the truth is a defense. I know what goes on in college football, so cut me a break. …” “Everybody has something on Nick Saban, for God’s sake,” Cindrich said. “And if he has a problem with anything I say, come on after me, big guy.” Cindrich was then asked if Alabama players are paid to play football for the Tide. “Oh come on. “When you get these guys down and you get them under oath, they’ll tell you that. Sure. The statute of limitations has probably run as far as any criminality was involved to what I was relating to Saban, but I was involved in it. I know what he tried to do. I know what he tried to cover up. If he wants to stand up and say something, I’ll bring that up. If it’s out of time, I’ll go to the nearest agent I know, and I’ll bring up about a dozen things that are in time, because that’s the way he and most of the big-time schools, particularly in the SEC, operate.“

Other coaches in college football think he's cheating:

"If you had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country every year [you'd win like Nick Saban]," an anonymous coach told Chip Patterson of "He shows up at every single game with a better roster than the teams he's playing." If you count cheating and getting the best players in the country as part of running a program, he's the best in the country," the coach added. "It's like saying an NFL coach is the best coach in the league if he gets 25 first-round picks every year."

Their players have taken money from coaches on staff:

Back in the old days – say 2011 – the University of Alabama might be nervous after another report of a star player receiving an extra benefit in violation of NCAA rules. 
On Thursday, it was word from that assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Harris was placed on administrative leave for providing a loan over the summer to star safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The report also says Harris was found by the Alabama compliance department to have ties to a sports agent. It was just Wednesday that Clinton-Dix was suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team rules. These aren't outside allegations. These are the conclusions of the school itself. This comes on the heels of last month's Yahoo! Sports detailed story about how former player Luther Davis had ties to sports agents and financial planners and provided a series of "impermissible benefits" to star lineman D.J. Fluker, now of the San Diego Chargers, among other SEC players. The school is looking into that one. That's smoke from two sports agent stories on top of each other, one coming from a currently employed staff member. Predicting the actions of the ever-unpredictable NCAA is always fraught with danger. But back when the NCAA had a full, aggressive enforcement staff, when it still liked flexing its muscles, when it wasn't under such assault from lawyers and the public alike – you know a couple years ago – it stands to reason it would've sent a team to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to take a look at the Crimson Tide. 

Their players have been accused of taking banned NCAA substances:

A number of players from the 2012 national championship Alabama football team reportedly used the same deer-antler spray that Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis allegedly used this season. The spray contains IGF-1, a substance banned by the NFL and NCAA. Christopher Key, co-owner of the company that provides the spray, toldESPN's Joe Schad on Wednesday that he sold the bottles to Alabama's players and personally witnessed five of them spray it in their mouths. The company, Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, or "S.W.A.T.T." is based in Alabama and Key said he sold approximately 40 bottles in total to members of Alabama's football team; 20 of those bottles were purchased by players at a New Orleans hotel room as the team prepared for the BCS national championship game against LSU last year, and then another 20 bottles were sold to members of the team at the apartment of an Alabama player 10 days before the nationally televised game.

Their players associate with agents:

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- University of Alabama officials are investigating whether junior defensive lineman Marcell Dareus broke NCAA rules by attending an agent's party in Miami's South Beach earlier this summer, multiple sources told Dareus, ranked as the No. 7 prospect for the 2011 NFL draft by ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, is the latest prominent college football player to be entangled in an evolving NCAA investigation into illegal contact and conduct by sports agents. "Our [university] compliance people are looking into it," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. Sources told ESPN last week that NCAA investigators have interviewed North Carolina players, including defensive end Marvin Austin, about attending the party. South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders also confirmed to ESPN on Sunday that he recently spoke with NCAA investigators about the same party. 
The NCAA is trying to determine who paid for the players' transportation to Miami, and lodging, food and entertainment while they were there. 

They had a huge memorabilia scandal:

A report alleging NCAA violations involving memorabilia by Alabama players being sold by a Tuscaloosa, Ala., store owner drew a response Thursday night from Alabama director of athletics Bill Battle, as well as a vehement denial from Tom Al-Betar, owner of T-Town Menswear and T-Town Gallery. The story alleges that current Alabama players, including stars Julion Jones, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, AJ McCarron, T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper, are autographing memorabilia that they know is being sold, an NCAA violation, and potentially profiting from it, as well. It's not the first time Al-Betar has faced the allegation from, and Alabama sent the booster a formal letter of disassociation by the UA compliance department in 2011. Reached by Thursday, Al-Betar defended his actions, saying that the memorabilia in his shop signed by current players is being brought in by fans."They don't belong to no football players," Al-Betar said. "They sign it over there and they will come here. Most every year they do the same thing." Photos from the shop's Facebook page, however, depicted both current and graduated players signing items in the store, although provided no evidence of payments to players. It may be up to the NCAA at some point to decide what it all means. On Monday, the T-Town Menswear Facebook page, the source of many of the photos of Albetar and the players, no longer existed. A Twitter message from @ttownmenswear said, "T-Town Menswear is in the process of setting up a new web site, blog and more! Stay tuned for more info."

Their coaches have committed NCAA recruiting violations:

Alabama won't face any further punishment stemming from former Crimson Tide defensive line coach Bo Davis' NCAA violations, the NCAA announced Friday morning. Davis received a two-year show-cause penalty that will be in effect through April 13, 2019. It's a significant punishment that stems from the violations that led to Davis being fired by Alabama last April. According to the NCAA, Davis knowingly committed a recruiting violation when he took part in an impermissible meeting with four prospective recruits that was pre-arranged by a booster. Davis then provided false or misleading information about the meeting and the booster's involvement when questioned by Alabama and the NCAA, according to the NCAA.

So yeah, what's the point of trying to compete if the playing field isn't level. College football isn't fun anymore and it's because the NCAA has allowed Alabama and Nick Saban to monopolize talent in a way that's never happened in the history of the sport. A sport that is almost assuredly as dirty as college basketball.

The bureau was investigating an individual for Security and Exchange Commission violations who was allegedly funneling money to players. That sort of plea-deal whistleblower doesn't exist in college football. Yet. "It's probably manifested itself in football in a slightly different way," said a former NCAA official familiar with the enforcement process. "… You have the same incentive [to cheat], if not moreso, because of the value of a head coaching job at top level of football. "I have no doubt [the same level of cheating] is happening."


Indy Pete - Go Blue

December 9th, 2018 at 12:45 PM ^

Kvothe,  I did not name call, but condoning cheating is shameful. That is an adjective. Competing with Alabama requires a lot of hard work, winning close games, effective recruiting, and innovation.  Michigan is very close on a lot of those fronts. We have not won the close games. Look back at 2016 and the spot in Columbus. It would be a completely different narrative.  So many of you are feeble minded and easily influenced by national media and this fixed narrative that Michigan will never beat Ohio State again. 

 Harbaugh is bringing innovative recruiting which involved a ridiculous number of satellite campus forcing a rule change. Now he is putting every other university on notice with his innovative international trips. These are just part of the puzzle. When we start to win the big games, I have a feeling that most of these negative, hateful accounts will become inactive. And those of you who truly are Michigan fans, you will owe a lot of us true fans an apology that we will likely not get from you because of your character. 


December 9th, 2018 at 1:37 PM ^

What if I told you it's not cheating if everyone is doing it.  Literally EVERY team gives impermissible benefits to players.  Alabama has just made it an artform ala Lance Armstrong.  Time to go hard against the cheaters and NCAA somehow (press, legal system, etc.).  Lobby for paying players in a serious way.  Or start shelling out $$$.  The Athletic Department should choose one of these options.


December 9th, 2018 at 3:36 PM ^

Just because nearly everyone else does something, it does mean it is either right or acceptable.  My vote is go hard after the rule breakers.  We say we are leaders - so let's leas on this.  Others will follow (mainly the many who do not have cash to cheat like the bug guys, and the few who have the resources yet also the ethics to refrain from it).  There is a lot of money and vested interest involved, but this seems like a hill worth dying to take.  I would rather see the program burn than see it go dirty, and if the sports becomes pay to play then may as well just watch NFL.


December 9th, 2018 at 1:51 PM ^

I was forced to live in that part of the country for a year.  What people may not realize is that the Civil War is still being fought, albeit on the college gridiron rather than the battlefield.   Every time you hear the  S-E-C chant, it’s a semi-polite way of saying fuck you Yankee.  When you have that mindset, cheating becomes easy to rationalize.  Just win baby...


December 9th, 2018 at 5:09 PM ^

Tis an awesome couple of books.  The third book has been complete for years.  He doesn't release it similar to why GRRM hasn't released the next GOT book.  The anticipation drums up revenue, plus now a movie and Showtime series are in the works for Rothfuss.  He'll release the third book eventually but probably not until every dime is milked out.


December 9th, 2018 at 2:50 PM ^

I disagree about moral compass.  Is it a moral dilemma to decide whether or not to give kids money to come to your school to play football?  If so, why?  Because the archaic NCAA says you can’t do it?  Most of the allegations are not against the law; they are against NCAA rules.  The NCAA either chooses to ignore them or has no real power to investigate and punish (or both).  And I know that “laws” and “morals” are not the same thing, but we’re talking about paying kids to play football - not about stealing or killing someone or something that would be a real moral dilemma.

Although I’d like to consider Michigan above this, it is frustrating to know this goes on with no repercussions, while we took a hit for stretching too much.

So I can understand when people say we should do it too.  I don’t necessarily agree, but I certainly understand the reasoning and don’t think they are amoral for thinking it.


December 9th, 2018 at 1:22 PM ^

To avoid a "league" of five teams (Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State) that is permanently separate from the remainder of the competition and plays ifself in the playoffs every year, one of two things would apparently need to happen.

1. Michigan and others learn to out-Alabama Alabama and Georgia through underhanded means

2. Michigan, Big Ten, Pac Ten, others actively participate in the downfall of programs who cheat to an absurd extent.


The secret to winning clearly includes cheating your ass off.  Yeah, you need coaching, but there is no other explanation for Georgia suddenly being as good as Alabama, or even Alabama being as good as it is, than rampant roster building by paying kids.  An NFL roster composed on only first and second round picks would exhibit the same level of dominance, probably.


Diagonal Blue

December 9th, 2018 at 1:56 PM ^

Saban's relationship with Mark Emmert is what has allowed him to operate brazenly and with impunity. He's in a state with no professional sports teams at a school that has a long history of rule breaking at a time where the NCAA has no teeth or will to punish anyone. Of course other schools are cheating in the SEC, Saban is just cheating better and harder.


December 9th, 2018 at 4:07 PM ^

I partly disagree. Your OP is valuable and persuasive. But I do not accept your assertion that the only reason Bama wins is because they cheat more and better. 

For one, schools like LSU and Auburn and FSU and Texas also have sophisticated rule-breaking programs. Ole Miss was as dirty as you can get. None of these teams even approach Saban’s level of success. 

Saban is excellent. Players that go to Alabama perform to their potential and develop. His defenses are loaded, but they are also exceptionally well-coached and do a great job attacking their opponents. 

To see what difference coaching makes, just contrast Alabama’s consistency with a team like USC, which lands a top five class every season and can’t even compete for its division in a pitiful conference. 

Lance Armstrong is a good example here: everyone Lance raced against was doped to the gills. They all cheated just as much. Lance cheated and he was also smarter and harder working (he didn’t lie when he said he worked hard, he just lied about doping). 

Save this thread to link it later, it’s persuasive. But Bama offers more than just money. They offer great coaching and results, too. 

Ger Sauden

December 9th, 2018 at 1:52 PM ^

Would you have made this post if Daxton Hill didn't flip yesterday?

And, do you really think he flipped for any other reason than Michigan's ugly performance against Ohio St? And if it wasn't a flip to Alabama, with all the corruption you insinuate it took to build that program, that he wouldn't have flipped to some other school, like Georgia, or Clemson, or any other big name program, that doesn't get absolutely pasted by its biggest rival, and in in the top 4?


December 9th, 2018 at 1:58 PM ^

Daxton Hill may have sparked the post, but you are missing the overall point to an insane degree. 

Nick Saban was an NFL failure who took over a poor Alabama team. He proceeded to go 7-6 his first year. That he year was able to recruit 24 4-star+ players. 

This is about how Alabama BECAME Alabama. And because they became Alabama, they are able to sell a guy like Daxton Hill on being an instant winner. But they main reason why they are able to do that is because they pay more than Michigan. Maybe they didn't need to do this to get Hill to flip, but its certainly the main reason they are where they are today under Saban.