When former Louisville wide receiver Tyler Harrell committed to Alabama in April, it was just the latest instance of Crimson Tide coach NIck Saban landing a high-profile transfer. However, name, image and likeness deals have added a new layer to college athlete mobility — one that many coaches believe is a result of tampering.
Speaking on Harrell’s departure with 247Sports earlier this month, Cardinals coach Scott Satterfield implied that multiple player exits via the transfer portal were a result of tampering.
“I think it’s not only him, it’s happened before here,” said Satterfield. “Last year, we had a few guys that jumped into the portal and the next day they’re announcing where they’re going. You can look at that and know that something went on before they were in the portal.”
Satterfield didn’t exactly call out Saban by name, but that didn’t stop reporters from asking him about Satterfield’s comments at a golf tournament in Birmingham on Wednesday.
“We don’t tamper with anybody, so I don’t know of anything or anybody that tampered with him,” Saban said of Harrell, per 247Sports. “I don’t really know that anybody’s really ever tampered with our players. I just think sometimes when things happen, it makes you wonder. So I’m not making any accusations against anybody that’s done anything with our players, and I don’t have any knowledge of anybody that’s done anything with anybody else’s players.”
Instead, Saban suggested player representatives — a phenomenon that has become more prominent now that players can profit off of NIL — are playing a big role in how players are committing.
“I think that it’s really hard to control third parties, whether it’s direct or indirect,” said Saban. “When you have a guy leave your program to go someplace else the day after a game – I don’t have any evidence that anything happened and I’m not making any accusations, but it makes you wonder, I guess. But hopefully, we have enough honesty and integrity out there among us professionally in our sport that people are going to abide by the rules.”
Alabama has certainly enjoyed its share of transfer portal success stories over the years. Saban has lured multiple high-profile players to join the program, including former wide receiver Jameson Williams, a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and current linebacker Henry To’o To’o. This offseason alone, Saban landed five high-profile transfers: Harrell, former Georgia wide receiver Jermaine Burton, former LSU defensive back Eli Ricks, former Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs and former Vanderbilt offensive lineman Tyler Steen.