Nick Saban NCAA transfer rules
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Nick Saban talks NCAA transfer rules and Name, Image, and Likeness

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VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. — Nick Saban met with the media Thursday before the 15th annual Nick's Kids golf tournament at Old Overton Club. The Alabama head coach addressed a number of topics, including a return to normalcy in recruiting, the new name image likeness policy as well as the possibility of the SEC changing its intraconference transfer policy.

To watch the interview, click the play button above. Below is a transcript of everything Saban had to say.

Opening statement 

“We’re always happy to be here for Nick’s Kids. This is something that we look forward to every year. We’ve got a lot of great people who support Nick’s Kids. I think Miss Terry has done a great job of sort of orchestrating help from a lot of young people to have a better opportunity to be successful — building the 18 houses for needy families with Habitat has been something that we’ve really been committed to and we’re building our 18th house right now. I think after this year we’ll be over $10 million since we’ve been at Alabama. We’re doing the student center that’s going to combine the library and all kinds of things in Tuscaloosa so a lot of things done with individual groups as well. The legacy of this Nick Kid’s thing is all about my dad — I’ve told the story many, many times that the school bus would pick up kids so they could participate in athletics and have a better chance go to college and have an education which a lot of kids did, so this is kind of an extension of his legacy that we’re happy to be able to promote. It’s just a fun day.”

On returning to normalcy after COVID-19

“We’re excited to be able to get back to normal with a lot of things like we’re finally having players coming back to camp. We’ve got our players back on campus doing normal workouts at school. Just anything that we do that gets us back to normal makes me really, really happy and this is an event that we always look forward to and really missed being able to do last year so it’s great to be back here this year.”

How much closer does it feel to normal?

“I think we’re pretty close to being there. We’ve got a pretty significant number of people that have been vaccinated so we’re almost to the threshold where we won’t have to test. We’ve given every player the option to — whether he wants to do it or not — and we’ve had a pretty good response and we’ve had some really good educational meetings for the players so that they can make a good, intelligent decision about what they want to do and not do. So we’re pretty much back to normal.”

On whether the new NIL policy will lead to more underclassmen returning? 

“Maybe. We don’t have any experience with this whole name, image and likeness thing — how it’s gonna impact individuals on the team — but the business decision that we try to get our players to make relative to first-round picks, guys that have those kinds of ratings, sometimes they fall into the second round, guys in the second round that can improve their draft status, those are the guys that have gone out for the most part for us. I don’t think there’s going to be enough significance in name, image and likeness that the millions of dollars they can make by going out for the draft would impact that or affect it but we don’t have any experience with it so we don’t know how it’s going to impact guys in the future.”

How excited are you to figure out what this year’s team chemistry?

"It’s always a work in progress, but I do think that the summer program is where the leadership on the team has the best chance to flourish because the coaches aren’t always around so the players have more input during seven-on-seven when the coaches aren’t allowed to be out there. We had our annual leadership on the lake thing last week. And I think the players are excited about the opportunity and the challenges that this season will bring."

How do intraconference transfers and the new name, image, likeness policies make your job more difficult? 

"It really is what it is. You just have to adapt to whatever it is. I don’t know what will happen today when they vote on that whole deal. I know that the other conferences have said you can intraconference transfer, but I have no idea what the outcome of that will be, so we just have to wait and see.”

How much do you enjoy building relationships with face-to-face recruiting? 

“I think it’s so much better. Zooming, technology allows us to do that, which is certainly better than talking to somebody on the phone. But the face-to-face contact, getting people to sit there and look at them eye to eye with their parents as well as the prospects is something that I’ve always really enjoyed. I think developing relationships with all the people in the organization who are gonna impact a guy’s future — whether it’s people in academics, strength and conditioning, medical staff, nutritionists. I mean to develop relationships with all those people is something that I think is very important for guys being able to make decisions, and I think it’s important for them to be able to do that face-to-face.”

What’s something you missed about seeing recruits in person that you didn’t realize you missed. 

“I missed being and having normal, in-person, face-to-face contact with people, but I think we all did a very good job relative to the circumstances we were in when we couldn’t have them to do the best job we could to develop them over Zooms. We Zoomed every aspect of our program that a player would be exposed to on a visit — whether it was player panels, medical staff, academic folks, strength and conditioning coaches. Is it the same as face to face? Probably not. But it was the best we could do, and I’m glad we’re back to normal.”

Nick Saban spoke to the media on June 3rd during a charity event for Nick's kids
Nick Saban spoke to the media on June 3rd during a charity event for Nick's kids