SEC commissioner Greg Sankey issues Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher public reprimands

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SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, shown here speaking to the media during the 2021 SEC Football Kickoff Media Days on July 19, 2021, at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., issued a public reprimand to Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher after the coaches engaged in a bitter back-and-forth May 18 and May 19. (Jimmie Mitchell/SEC)
Jimmie Mitchell

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey issued public reprimands to Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher after a heated exchange between the Alabama and Texas A&M head coach.

Saban is among coaches who have publicly challenged how Fisher and Texas A&M went about building a recruiting class in 2022, in regards to how name, image and likeness deals might have been used.

Fisher fiercely and categorically denied any wrongdoing back in February and again on Thursday after Saban voiced allegations as facts on Wednesday night.

“We were second in recruiting last year, A&M was first, (and) A&M bought every player on their team,” Saban said. “Made a deal for name, image and likeness. We didn’t buy one player.”

RELATED: Nick Saban states Texas A&M bought players

Fisher held an impromptu press conference on Thursday, calling Saban a “despicable … narcissist.”

RELATED: Jimbo Fisher suggests someone should have slapped Nick Saban

Fisher, who worked for Saban at LSU from 2000-2004, also suggested the Alabama head coach does not follow rules and said “I don’t want to be associated with him.”

Saban spoke again after Fisher’s fiery comments.

“I should have never really singled anybody out, that was a mistake and I really apologize for that part of it,” Saban said.

But, Saban added, “I’m not changing my philosophy on it.”

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Sankey, who took over as SEC commissioner in 2015, addressed coaches’ public exchange on Thursday:

“The membership of the Southeastern Conference has established expectations for conduct and sportsmanship that were not met last night nor today,” Sankey said in a statement released from the conference office.

“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.”

The SEC athletic directors and head coaches will meet in Destin, Fla., May 31-June 1 at the annual spring meetings.

Sankey issued the public reprimands citing violations of SEC Bylaws.

“As a result of public comments made on May 18 by Alabama head coach Nick Saban, a public reprimand is issued for comments he made in violation of SEC Bylaws 10.2.3 and 10.5.2 related to Ethical Conduct for derogatory comments and public criticism of another institution’s athletics program.

As a result of public comments made on May 19 by Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher, a public reprimand is issued for comments he made in violation of SEC Bylaw 10.5.2 related to Ethical Conduct for public criticism of another member institution’s staff.”

• 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.”

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