Nick Saban Answers Questions on Football and College Sports

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In college, we revenue produce. We have 21 sports — I don’t know how many hundreds of student-athletes we have on scholarship — and most of those sports create no revenue. But the sports that create revenue make it possible for all of those sports to exist. We reinvest all the resources, all the income, we reinvest in the programs.

I hear people say all the time, “Well, you make a lot of money.” Yeah, but I create a lot of value.

There’s more money to reinvest because the revenue sports do very, very well, so that helps all of the other sports and all of the other opportunities that are created for all of the other sports. So when it comes to name, image and likeness, I’ve got no problem with that.

You know, players have always been allowed to work. They could have a summer job, they could make money. Less and less do because cost of attendance gives them extra money now, and we’re allowed to pay for their summer school, where years ago players weren’t on scholarship in the summer. Everybody chose to work, to make money so they’d have more money. But we didn’t have any other money that we got either; they just got room, board, tuition and books.

Their quality of life has improved to some degree. Name, image and likeness is a good thing for the players — it’s an opportunity for them to work, it’s no different than that. I guess I’ve been criticized for saying this, but opportunities also create some obstacles, maybe, that we haven’t had to deal with in the past, which is that it’s not going to be the same for everybody.

Everything in college has always been the same scholarship, the same cost of attendance, whatever it is, same benefits for when you’re here in terms of academic support or personal development or whatever it is. So it’s not going to be the same. Some guys are going to make more than others, and they’re going to have more opportunities. Some positions are creating more value than others, so how is that going to affect college football teams and players on teams?

We’ve talked to our players about that, so they understand that. I coached in pro football, so everyone didn’t make the same in pro football, everybody didn’t get the same benefits, everybody didn’t get the same opportunities for endorsements, and I’ve tried to explain that. But that is kind of what it is. I’m happy for the players to have the opportunities to do that.

So when you talk about what’s the red line, I think I can’t tell you what the red line is. I just know there’s only so much money to go around, so the more we spend in some ways, maybe you can have less sports. So now there’s less opportunities for other people in sports because if you’re paying players, then there’s only so much money. Therefore, how many players can you afford to pay, which would determine how many sports you can actually have?

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