Saban dismisses report of potentially excessive contact

Updated: June 1, 2007, 5:00 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Allegations of potential NCAA rules violations a laughing matter? In the case of Alabama coach Nick Saban, a recent report accusing him of illegal contact with recruits seemed to humor him more than anything.

You really can't prove what you didn't do.

Nick Saban

"We respect the rules and certainly have always respected the rules and will continue to do that," Saban told the Birmingham News on Tuesday at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla. "And I think it's funny that it came from Miami."

The former coach of the Miami Dolphins was addressing the topic for the first time. According to reports in the Miami Herald and and on canesports.com on May 24, three south Florida junior prospects described conversations with Saban during his recruiting trip the previous week that might have exceeded NCAA rules limiting face-to-face contact with recruits.

There is an NCAA rule in place that allows only for "exchange of a greeting" between a coach and potential recruits between April 15 and May 31. Coaches are allowed to evaluate high school players at their schools during that period.

"You really can't prove what you didn't do," Saban said, according to the Birmingham newspaper.

Miami Krop junior linebacker Etienne Sabino said Saban told him he's "the big physical type of linebacker" Alabama needs.

Miami Northwestern High junior Brandon Washington said Saban asked if "my heart was in Miami." Washington has verbally committed to playing for the University of Miami Hurricanes.

Northwestern teammate Marcus Fortson said he spoke to Saban for "a few minutes" and that the coach told him Alabama "is a great place to get a degree."

When asked if the reports were inaccurate, "I said I think it's funny it came from Miami" was Saban's response. He declined to comment further.

An Alabama spokesman said last week the university would not comment on the reports. If violations occurred, they were likely secondary and wouldn't lead to significant penalties.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.