Nick Saban: Players should have a voice

Saban in favor of players unionizing

Anniston StarMarch 31, 2014 

Alabama Football 2014 Spring Practice

Alabama's Nick Saban speaks during his Spring season press conference, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at the Mal Moore Athletic Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Saban said Monday that he has always been an advocate for players rights. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt)

VASHA HUNT — AP

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban has always been outspoken and firm with his opinions on topics that affect college football.

That was no different on Monday when Saban was asked about his thoughts on players unionizing.

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the Northwestern football players attempting to form a union. It is potentially a landmark case for collegiate athletics. The NLRB said that players had the right to form the first labor union in the history of college sports. Northwestern is expected to appeal the decision.

Saban said he's "always been an advocate of players' rights" and said players should have a voice.

"I've always been an advocate of players being compensated the best that we can to help them," Saban said.

"Whatever the NCAA rule is and whatever they decide to do, I've always been an advocate of the player and the quality of life that a player has. I think that having a voice in what happens, I think, is something that the players probably ought to have. And I'm really not opposed to that at all. I do think that it's not what it seems."

Saban said it often gets lost how much universities invest in players outside of athletic scholarships. Saban said Alabama spent more than a half a million dollars on player development.

"We spent like $600,000 last year on personal development programs," he said. "All things that directly affect the player having a chance to be successful.

"I can't even tell you what our academic support budget is, trying to invest in a player and what is the value of him getting an education and graduating from school here? Not just the value of the scholarship. What's the value of him getting an education?"

Saban said he doesn't think players "just receive a scholarship" and that a lot of players "realize that, understand that and appreciate that."

While Saban said universities can't pay players, he did stress the importance of investing in players futures. He said Alabama does a "marvelous" job at reinvesting in its players futures and noted that is what makes a program great.

"I think that's why players want to come and be a part of the program, because we do reinvest in the future and their chances of being successful, and we do care," Saban said.

"And it's not just about football. So there's a lot of value that players get from the experience that they have as college student-athletes, that really benefit their chances of being successful.

"I know that the fact that I played football and got a scholarship, but all the things that I benefitted from have helped me be very, very successful.

"And I can't really tell you what the value of that is, but I think it's pretty significant."

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