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Nick Saban says college athletes 'players probably ought to have' a voice

As usual, Alabama tasked with replacing big stars

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Alabama's Nick Saban speaks during his spring season press conference, Saturday, March 15, 2014, at the Mal Moore Athletic Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Saban discussed the spring season and future quarterback decisions. (AP Photo/Alabama Media Group, Vasha Hunt)

Alabama coach Nick Saban said he's always been an advocate of players rights.

Saban commented on the topic of compensation for college athletes on Monday after Alabama's spring practice in the wake of the NLRB ruling in favor of Northwestern's players.

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

Those against the practice of oversigning would likely be quick to point out some perceived hypocrisy in Saban's comments. And with good reason. Though Saban is near the target with his comment that the movement isn't what it seems. Having a union doesn't guarantee players any benefits they currently don't have. It just guarantees them the right to bargain collectively.

It's probably one reason why Stanford coach David Shaw said he was confused at the movement to form a union.

"I'm as confused as anybody as to the importance of this," Shaw said via the AP. "I'm curious what's really driving it. I've seen everything, and everything that's been asked for, my understanding is it's been provided. I think Northwestern does a phenomenal job providing for their kids, and it's weird to try to unionize but still compliment Northwestern and compliment their coaching staff on being taken care of. Those things don't seem to go hand in hand."

According to, Saban didn't fully state if he supported the idea of athletes collectively bargaining.

Shaw also invoked the value of a scholarship to Stanford, which is about $60,000. It's far more than the value of a scholarship to Alabama, which is $36,950 for out-of-state recruits.

Those are numbers that need to be considered carefully when discussing the the issue of athlete compensation. The chasm that exists amongst schools' tuition rates isn't replicated when it comes to the benefits that players receive. To assume that Stanford football player gets over $90,000 more in benefits over the course of four years than an out-of-state Alabama football player does is risky at best.

Saban also brought up the money spent towards players outside of scholarship values and said the school spent approximately $600,000 on player development programs. It may seem like a large number, but it's dwarfed by the $143.4 million in revenue the athletic department had in 2012-2013.

"It would be interesting to know how much ... everybody knows what a scholarship is worth," Saban said. "That's pretty easy to figure out. But to do on a per-player basis, what we invest in the player to try to help them be successful. We spent like $600,000 last year on personal development programs.

"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?"

The last question, coupled with many factors, including the millions of dollars that football athletes make for their respective schools, is what everyone's trying to figure out.


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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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