Nick Saban unapologetic about handling of Smith’s transfer request

Nick Saban's news conference ran live on the SEC Network on Thursday.

ATHENS — Alabama coach Nick Saban was unapologetic about his handling of Maurice Smith’s request to transfer to Georgia when he addressed it during his preseason camp news conference on Thursday.

Saban mentioned the situation in his opening remarks and said he would not be taking questions on it. When he encountered a follow-up question about it from one reporter, he became cantankerous and warned that he might “go Belichick on it.”

Smith, a rising senior safety who will graduate from Alabama on Saturday, was denied a request to transfer to Georgia via the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule that would allow him to be immediately eligible.

“Nothing has changed,” Saban said during his opening statement. “We support the SEC rule of not granting guys releases to go to other SEC schools. It has been our policy here not to do that unless there was a special circumstance. All right? We released a statement today that talked about the special circumstances surrounding another player, which was an exception, not the rule.?

I am not going to discuss this any further. You know, Maurice did a great job for us around here. WE want to help him every way we can. He has other opportunities to go other places outside of the league and we’re supporting him and helping him do that. So that’s all we can say about that.”

Wide receiver Chris Black graduated from Alabama after fall semester and was allowed to transfer to Missouri. In a lengthy statement issued before Thursday’s news conference, Alabama explained the “special circumstances” surrounding that transfer.

“That instance occurred only because of unique circumstances,” the statement reads. “The student-athlete elected to have surgery in the middle of the season and left the program. Because of the timing of his departure, his scholarship was not renewed, and he requested to use the graduate transfer exception through the SEC. Our decision in this situation to support the SEC waiver was the exception and not the rule. We adhere to the SEC and institutional policies regarding issues of this manner. Waivers are not provided without compelling circumstances that present clear non-athletics reasons for the transfer.”

No one in the press corps covering Thursday’s news conference asked Saban about Smith’s accusations that Alabama officials threw the personal belongings from his locker into the trash, banned him from the football facility and slow-played his transfer request.

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