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SEC responds to feud brewing between Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher, Alabama's Nick Saban

The SEC called out Fisher and Saban for what is best explained as unsportsmanlike conduct.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — When it comes to the Lone Star State, one could argue there's nothing better than football, especially in Aggieland. Add a little drama, a big rivalry and a couple of heavy hitters and you've got a story that's fitting for Texas.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey swiftly threw himself into the mix like a frustrated parent trying to calm the waters. Thursday morning, Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher responded to comments Nick Saban made at a Wednesday evening speaking event. Saban claimed Fisher bought and paid for every last player in his recruiting class.

Fisher defended his actions, his team and the university and said the school acted with integrity and did nothing wrong to earn the #1 recruiting class of 2022. Fisher accused Saban of throwing a temper tantrum because he didn't get his way.

It was easy to see how personal it was for Fisher; he coached under Saban for five seasons. When asked if Saban had called Fisher before the Aggie press conference, Fisher confirmed it, but said he wouldn't take the phone call.

"We're done," Fisher said, putting his hands up.

Sankey, however, in an effort to restore order, called out the coaches for their conduct and issued each a public reprimand, citing SEC Bylaws. Sankey said Saban violated bylaws 10.2.3 and 10.5.2 related to Ethical Conduct for "derogatory comments and public criticism."

Sankey said Fisher violated bylaw 10.5.2 for public criticism of another member institution's staff. An explanation of the bylaws are below:

  • SEC Bylaw 10.2.3 states “Coaches and other member personnel shall advocate the positive advantages and attributes of their university and its intercollegiate athletics program and shall avoid making any derogatory statements concerning another member institution’s athletics program, facilities or educational opportunities.”
  • SEC Bylaw 10.5.2 states “Coaches and administrators shall refrain from public criticism of other member institutions, their staffs or players. Coaches and administrators shall also refrain from making public statements and accusations with regard to infractions concerning member institutions and their personnel. In response to questions by the media, it is appropriate to state that infractions are reported, investigated and addressed in accordance with established Conference and NCAA procedures.”

Sankey said the SEC is not going to stand for organizations fighting with one another, but admits there is some inconsistency in the rules concerning money for college athletes. However, he wants collaboration, not a divide.

"There is tremendous frustration concerning the absence of consistent rules from state to state related to name, image and likeness," Sankey said. "We need to work together to find solutions and that will be our focus at the upcoming SEC Spring Meetings.”

You can read Sankey's full statement below:

“The membership of the Southeastern Conference has established expectations for conduct and sportsmanship that were not met last night nor today,” said Sankey. “A hallmark of the SEC is intense competition within an environment of collaboration. Public criticism of any kind does not resolve issues and creates a distraction from seeking solutions for the issues facing college athletics today. There is tremendous frustration concerning the absence of consistent rules from state to state related to name, image and likeness. We need to work together to find solutions and that will be our focus at the upcoming SEC Spring Meetings.” - SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey

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