Of bringing his latest thoughts on college football's changing state, Alabama coach Nick Saban suggested that his school grant a certain amount of NIL funding to every player on its football team.
"We provide everybody with the same medical care, academic support, and a different scholarship," Saban said in an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday. "So if we're going to do this, then everybody will benefit equally. I will not construct a caste system on our team."
Since last July, college athletes have been able to benefit from their names, images, and similarities, as the United States Supreme Court reversed a lower court's decision that the NCAA would not limit athletes' benefits without violating antitrust laws.
In the months since, players have been able to reach agreements with companies and earn income, with third-party "collectives" of boosters emerging to help organize deals for a particular school's players. A group called "High Tide Traditions" for Alabama players was launched earlier this week.
In February, Saban discussed how the rapidly-changing NIL collectives has acted in recruiting, declaring that "people are making arrangements with high school students to attend their school," and said, "That's not why we did this."
This week, Saban addressed similar points to the Associated Press.
I dont believe what were doing right now is a viable model, he said, adding that schools can basically buy players in recruiting these days.
"I mean, if that's what we want college football to be, I don't know."
Last July, Saban said quarterback Bryce Young had earned about $1 million in NIL income before his first season for Alabama, and that Alabama players "probably made as much or more than anyone in the country" last season.
Even if Alabama's football program can benefit from the new field of college football, Saban believes that a competitive balance for the whole sport is in jeopardy. He continued to compare the current system to NFL free agency, but without the NFL's salary limit.
"So there will be some changes implemented, and there is no wage limit." "And whatever school decides to pay the most, they have the greatest chance to have the best team." "It's never been college football."
Saban issued a warning last summer about the possibility of a NIL in locker rooms, whereas the NFL systems where certain positions and players earn higher salaries because of their performance and profiles.
"I hope it will not impact team chemistry across the board," said the narrator last July.
In his published portion of his interview with the AP, Saban continued to oppose the idea of a "caste system" on his team, but said not to elaborate further on a strategy to distribute NIL income evenly among players.
Equal pay for players might be used as a tool for recruiting, according to Saban.
You're going to have kids who say, Well, I can get a better deal going somewhere else, he said. But youre also going to have people who see the light and say, Yeah, they have a solid understanding of developing professionals. They have a solid understanding of developing people, a great graduation rate, and that value is more important. And they're distributing money to everyone in the organization.
Dabo Swinney, a Clemson coach, predicted a "complete blowup" of college football last week with ESPN, proposing Power 5 schools breaking off as a separate entity. Saban said he is "all for" players being compensated, but believes there must be a commitment to the school, as did transfer regulations last year.
"It's also necessary to have some responsibility on both ends, which you might call a contract," he told the AP. "So that you have the opportunity to develop people in a manner that will help them succeed."