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Bama Says It’s Clean In Recruitment Of Sanders

As Alabama was busy wrapping up the SEC West division on its home court Saturday, football coach Nick Saban was in the stands with recruit Barry James Sanders… the son of NFL legend Barry Sanders (who was also at the game.)  As they watched the basketball game together, the Saban and the recruit were shown on the video boards at Coleman Coliseum.  A “We Want Barry” chant broke out at the game.

The website – think an Auburn fan tipped ‘em? — accused the Tide of violating NCAA Rule 13.11.5 which states:

“An institution may not introduce a visiting prospect at a function (e.g., the institution’s sports award banquet or an intercollegiate athletics contest) that is attended by media representatives or open to the general public.”

Last evening, an Alabama spokesperson told writer Izzy Gould via email that no violation occurred.  “Our compliance office is aware of this claim and has looked into it.  Based on that inquiry, it was determined that no violation was committed.”

Ah, but Robert Przyblo of The Oklahoman opens his coverage this way: “… there is no question if wrongdoing was done.”

Apparently there is.  And the question is this: Does a brief shot on a video board — with no accompanying PA mention or on-screen graphic backing — constitute an “introduction” as the rule states?  Obviously Alabama doesn’t think so.

Interestingly, just last month Saban was accused of violating the “bump rule” when he was photographed briefly speaking with Sanders at his Oklahoma City High School.  Nothing has come of that charge yet.

If the latest issue — which occurred during Bama’s “Junior Day” events — does turn out to be a violation, it will be hard to prove that it was anything more than a secondary violation.  Alabama can easily say that a camera operator inside the arena simply scanned the crowd and focused in on the Tide’s coach, just as other arena camera ops focus in on their football coaches during basketball games across the country.

While violations are to be taken seriously and the NCAA is certainly trying crack down on coaches who repeatedly commit secondary infractions, the bigger issue here might be the fact that in today’s age of self-appointed watchdog web journalists every secondary violation and accidental bump can now make national headlines. 

While rival SEC fans enjoy ratting out their neighbors and stirring up a certain type of storm for them, the never-ending cries of “They’re cheating” travel further these days.  They’re louder these days.  And that’s not good news for a league that has a long history of bending, breaking and ignoring rules.

Below are some example of why Saban is so interested in Sanders:

UPDATE — According to The Tuscaloosa News, UA officials say that photos of Saban and Sanders sitting together that are making the rounds on the internet were only seen on Fox Sports television.  School officials say the video board in the arena showed a tighter shot that only included Saban and not Sanders.

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