University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban claims that historically Black Jackson State University “paid a guy $1 million” to join the team.
Football legend Deion Sanders, now a football coach at Jackson State, says it’s a lie.
Saban claimed the alleged $1 million payout was reported by the media.
“We have a rule right now that said you cannot use name, image, and likeness to entice a player to come to your school. Hell, read about it in the paper!” Saban said. “I mean, Jackson State paid a guy $1 million last year that was a really good Division I player to come to school. It was in the paper, and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it.”
Saban did not provide the player’s name, but observers speculated it could be Travis Hunter, the No. 1 recruit in the nation in the class of 2022. Hunter failed to live up to his longtime verbal commitment to Florida State University, instead signing with Sanders and Jackson State, AL.com reported.
Feeling the heat, Saban apologized on May 19, particularly for singling out Sanders and Jackson State. That same day, Hunter issued a denial.
Hunter does have a name, image and likeness (NIL) deal with a Mississippi-based coffee company but said in a recent Instagram video that he does not have any new endorsements, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
NIL describes the means by which college athletes can receive financial compensation. NIL refers to the use of an athlete’s name, image, and likeness in marketing and promotional endeavors.
Sanders, who is entering his third season at Jackson State University, also issued a rebuttal to Saban’s initial statements.
Sanders also vowed to “address the lies told by Coach Saban soon,” noting his own salary at Jackson State, Yahoo reported.
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Sanders signed a four-year, $1.2 million contract when he was hired in 2020. His contract has a base salary of $300,000 and also includes an array of bonuses and incentives, according to the Clarion-Ledger.
“You best believe I will address what LIE Coach SABAN said tomorrow,” Sanders tweeted. “I was & awakened by my son @ShedeurSanders that sent me the article stating that WE PAYED @TravisHunterJr a Million to play at @GoJSUTigersFB! We as a PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE.”
Sanders tweeted later, this time in a video captioned “Stay Tuned,” featuring an image of Sanders checking his watch with the message, “You know what time it is,” and then, “I will be addressing the lies that were told by Coach Saban soon.”
While a more thorough response for Sanders is apparently on the way, Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher wasted no time going scorched earth on Saban, his former boss.
Photo: Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders (L) walks the field during an NCAA football game against Louisiana Monroe on Sept. 18, 2021, in Monroe, La. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)/Photo: Alabama head coach Nick Saban coaches during the first half of Alabama’s A-Day NCAA college football scrimmage, April 16, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)