Texas A&M's Ross Bjork says Nick Saban violates NCAA sportsmanship bylaws
May 20, 2022
Ross Bjork, the athletic director of Texas A&M, says comments made by Alabama coach Nick Saban regarding the school's recruiting practices violate the SEC's sportsmanship rules.
In a statement released Thursday, Bjork criticized the comments made by the Alabama coach, calling them a personal attack on his university and his former assistant, Jimbo Fisher. He noted that they violated the league's sportsmanship rules.
"I don't know why Nick Saban would say what he said except he's threatened," Bjork said. "There is a saying … an emperor who loses their dynasty lashes out. He seems to be making excuses. This is personal. Coach Fisher views this as a personal attack on his integrity and on Texas A&M's integrity," Bjork continued. "To have personal attacks, to say that the only reason A&M is [recruiting well] is NIL money is wrong."
Bjork said his school followed the state's rules regarding the use of names, images, and likenesses in recruiting. Moreover, a Texas law prohibits schools from using NIL deals to gain an advantage in their recruiting efforts.
Violation of sportsmanship bylaws
According to Bjork, the Alabama coach violated the league's sportsmanship rules by using NIL to lure players. The 49-year-old head coach claimed, however, that the school embraced the NIL and educated its athletes and boosters about its benefits. He criticized the comments that the NIL was the only reason kids chose A&M.
Despite the school's recent entry into the SEC, Bjork noted that people still did not like how A&M disrupted college football's power.
"A&M has a huge former student base. The Aggie network is strong. We've rebuilt Kyle Field and joined the SEC. I guess people don't like A&M disrupting the power base of college football," said Bjork.
Defending Texas A&M
Despite not being contacted by Alabama, Bjork noted that the comments made by Saban had boosted the school's fan base. He also praised the athletic program's recent entry into the SEC. Additionally, the Kansas-native head coach noted that the school's officials still support Fisher.
"We aren't done and going anywhere," Bjork said. "Everyone here at A&M has Coach Fisher's back. I've been with our Board of Regents the last day. The regents, chancellor and president all have Jimbo's back. We are going to stand up for our program."
During a press conference on Thursday, Fisher criticized Saban, calling him a selfish individual and saying their friendship had ended. He also suggested that reporters dig into Saban's past in recruiting.
The public feud between Fisher and Saban has highlighted the increasing number of state laws that created a patchwork of rules regarding using the NIL in recruiting.
NCAA remains indecisive
Bjork said the school had not received any response from the NCAA regarding an investigation into its recruiting. The organization is hamstrung by the possibility of antitrust lawsuits from wealthy booster members.
The lack of uniform rules governing the use of the NIL in recruiting has been cited as one of the main factors that have caused people to be frustrated by the situation.
For the past three years, college officials have been trying to get the federal government to adopt uniform legislation that would allow schools to use the NIL in their recruiting efforts.
Despite the various arguments supporting the need for uniform legislation, the NCAA still has a long way to go before implementing the changes that would allow schools to use the NIL in their recruiting efforts. For instance, according to Texas law, schools are not allowed to use the NIL to induce pay-for-play.