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Alabama football coach Nick Saban responded Wednesday to accusations that the program tampered with wide receiver Tyler Harrell before he entered the transfer portal.
The former Louisville wide receiver announced he would be transferring to Alabama in April, just 10 days after entering the portal, which has been compared to free agency in college football.
Louisville coach Scott Satterfield told 247Sports last week that he believed tampering occurred, but admitted he couldn’t prove it.
Alabama coach Nick Saban watches players warm up for the College Football Playoff championship NCAA football game against Georgia on Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
On Wednesday, Saban was asked about the tampering accusations before he was set to play in the Regions Tradition Pro-Am at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Hoover, Alabama.
“We don’t tamper with anybody,” Saban said, via The Tuscaloosa News. “I don’t know of anything or anybody that tampered with him. I don’t really know that anybody has tampered with our players. I just think that sometimes when things happen, it makes you wonder. I’m not making any accusations against anybody that has done anything with our players, and I don’t have any knowledge of anybody that has done anything with anybody else’s players.”
Under new regulations, NCAA teams are not allowed to contact a player until that player enters their name in the transfer portal. Satterfield implied that Alabama recruited Harrell before he entered the portal, which would have violated NCAA rules.
“I think it’s not only him, it’s happened before here,” Satterfield said. “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.”
Louisville Cardinals head coach Scott Satterfield points to the big screen as he reacts to a play during the college football game between the Clemson Tigers and the Louisville Cardinals on November 6, 2021, at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Harrell had a career-best season in 2021 with Louisville, catching 18 passes for 523 yards while averaging an impressive 29.1 yards per reception.
Saban has already added several transfers this offseason, including Georgia wide receiver Jermaine Burton, and Georgia Tech All-ACC running back Jahmyr Gibbs.
Saban recently expressed caution about using the transfer portal, and he likened the current name, image and likeness (NIL) system in college football to buying players. He said he supported players being compensated but suggested there was an issue with players being free to move from school to school without repercussion.
“That creates a situation where you can basically buy players,” Saban added. “You can do it in recruiting. I mean, if that’s what we want college football to be, I don’t know. And you can also get players to get in the transfer portal to see if they can get more someplace else than they can get at your place.”
Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide during warm ups before playing the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on October 09, 2021 in College Station, Texas. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)
On Wednesday, Saban noted that during the recruiting process it is difficult to control third parties “whether it’s direct or indirect.”
“When you have a guy leave your program and go someplace else the day after the game… I don’t have any evidence that anything happened, and I’m not making accusations, but it makes you wonder I guess,” he said, via the outlet. “But hopefully, we have enough honesty and integrity out there amongst us professionally in our sport that people are going to abide by the rules.”
Alabama is expected to make another run for the title this year, after losing to the Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship in January.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report