‘Multiple Schools’ Told NCAA Of Saban Violation?

On Feb. 15, 2009, Ron Higgins of the MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL accused Alabama football coach Nick Saban of committing an “apparent recruiting violation” after the coach showed up at the Memphis high school of junior football player Keiwone Malone just days before the Feb. 4, 2009, national signing day for high school seniors - which was a recruiting dead period.

Nick Saban Barry Sanders Jr Photo

The idea behind Saban’s appearance at Malone’s school was to persuade the high school junior recruit to verbally commit to Alabama soon after signing day for high school seniors - locking up the prospect for Saban as soon as possible. The applicable NCAA bylaw governing the Higgins-noted case involving Saban is called the “bump rule”. The rule states that a coach is allowed an incidental “greeting” with a player at his high school during the aforementioned recruiting dead period - but no more than that.

Relevant excerpt from NCAA Bylaw 13:

“Off-campus recruiting contacts shall not be made with an individual before July 1 following the completion of his junior year in high school. Any face-to-face encounter between a prospective student-athlete during which any dialogue occurs in excess of an exchange of a greeting (is prohibited). Such face-to-face encounter that is prearranged or that takes place on the grounds of the prospective student-athlete‚Äôs institution shall be considered a contact (violation).”

Following Saban’s reported “visit” with Malone at the Tennessee high school, the Memphis prospect verbally committed to Alabama just days after national signing day.

Higgins:

Just wondering when an SEC football coach is going to turn in Alabama coach Nick Saban on an apparent recruiting violation. Saban obtained a commitment from Mitchell receiver Keiwone Malone, a high school junior. The only problem is that other than a “bump” — which is an accidental “hello, how are ya?”– a coach can’t have direct contact with a junior at the time that Saban did (before signing day for seniors on Feb. 4). That’s a dead period (no contact) according to NCAA rules.

Judging from the quotes given by Malone to the CA’s Jason Smith, there was a face-to-face meeting and a selling job by Saban. Mitchell High didn’t have any seniors that were being recruited by Saban, so his visit wasn’t for that purpose. And it had to be more than a bump. When’s the last time you heard a kid receive a scholarship offer and commit on a bump? The SEC office had no comment on the matter, other than to explain the bump rule. This wasn’t a bump by the Sabanator. This was full-contact recruiting.

Surprising that Higgins also didn’t note that the “bump” rule was actually enacted in response to such past tactics by … wait for it … Nick Saban.

When the new NCAA rule was put in place in April, 2008, reporter Paul Gattis of the HUNTSVILLE TIMES referred to it as the “Saban Rule”:

Alabama football coach Nick Saban vehemently opposes the new recruiting restrictions that went into effect last week.

But Saban is in an overwhelmed minority

By a two-thirds majority, the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in January approved legislation proposed by the Southeastern Conference banning head coaches from making off-campus recruiting visits during the spring evaluation period.

That evaluation period started Tuesday and continues through May 31.

“I think it’s ridiculous that we’re doing what we’re doing,” Saban said last week.

Greg Sankey, associate SEC commissioner for NCAA compliance, said the vote favoring the new rule - dubbed the “Saban rule”by some - wasn’t close when the issue was raised by league coaches.

At the time, many credited the NCAA’s action to the Miami Herald reporting in 2007 that Saban had improper contact with three high school juniors in the Miami area: Etienne Sabino, Brandon Washington and Marcus Fortson.

Considering that it’s now largely accepted that the “bump” rule was put in place expressly to stop Saban from openly abusing NCAA rules, what happened this week between the coach and prized recruit Barry Sanders, Jr., in Oklahoma City is nothing short of stunning. Read more…