Saban emphatic about bad agents
Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2010 9:23 pm
By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Nick Saban didn’t pull punches Wednesday when discussing the improper contact with athletes by unscrupulous agents, comparing their behavior to that of a “pimp.”
The Alabama coach was upset about the rash of recent agent-related incidents that have resulted in NCAA investigations at several Southeastern Conference schools.
“I don’t think it’s anything but greed that’s creating it right now on behalf of the agents,” Saban said in a rant at the SEC media days. “The agents that do this — and I hate to say this, but how are they any better than a pimp?
“I have no respect for people who do that to young people. None. How would you feel if they did it to your child?”
Agents, not national titles, was the primary topic on Day 1 at the Wynfrey Hotel. Three SEC teams — Florida, Alabama and South Carolina — are investigating allegations involving improper contact with an agent. Saban and SEC commissioner Mike Slive both emphatically said it was time for a change to NCAA rules governing agents.
Saban confirmed that Alabama is looking into a trip defensive end Marcell Dareus took to an agent’s party at Miami’s South Beach. South Carolina is looking into claims from the same South Beach party with tight end Weslye Saunders.
Georgia associate athletic director Claude Felton confirmed that the NCAA requested permission late Wednesday afternoon to conduct an inquiry on the Bulldogs’ campus.
He would not say what the inquiry was about or whether it was related to the South Beach party. “This is all we can say,” Felton said.
Florida and the NCAA are reportedly investigating whether offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey — now an NFL rookie with the Pittsburgh Steelers received $100,000 from a sports agent’s representative between the SEC championship game and the Sugar Bowl.
Pouncey denied the allegation.
“I did not accept $100,000, it is an absolutely ridiculous claim,” he said in a statement through his attorney. “I have completely cooperated with the investigation and answered any and all questions put to me.”
Florida coach Urban Meyer said the Gators support Pouncey.
“If something happened, we should be punished severely,” Meyer said. “If it didn’t happen, then it’s nonsense. I heard his denial today and we stand by Maurkice Pouncey.”
The player’s twin brother, Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey, said they have both cooperated with investigators.
“I talked to my brother and it’s not true,” Mike Pouncey said. “He pretty much cleared that up in his statement. I feel bad about it because they’re ruining somebody’s name and they really don’t know who my brother and I are. We pride ourselves on having a good, clean name. It’s just hard right now.
“I’m just ready to be done with it.”
Saban said he wants the NFL Players Association to get involved and suspend agents whose dealings help cost players eligibility, sending a message through their bank accounts.
“That’s the only way we’re going to stop this happening, because it’s ridiculous and it’s entrapment for young people at a very difficult time in their life,” the former Miami Dolphins coach said. “It’s very difficult for the NCAA to control it, and it’s very unfair to college football.
“I think we should look into doing something about that.”
Florida coach Urban Meyer said it’s impossible for a coach to keep agents or their “runners” off campus and said they need to be “severely punished” by either state laws or the NFL for wrongdoing.
“It’s epidemic right now,” he said. “It’s always been there, but I think we’ve reached a point where the magnitude of college football is really overwhelming.
“We’ve really got to keep an eye on that.”
Published in The Messenger 7.22.10