Nick Saban didn’t pull punches Wednesday when discussing the improper contact with athletes by unscrupulous agents, comparing their behavior to that of a “pimp.”
The Alabama coach was upset about the rash of recent agent-related incidents that have resulted in NCAA investigations at several Southeastern Conference schools.
“I don’t think it’s anything but greed that’s creating it right now on behalf of the agents,” Saban said in a rant at the SEC media days. “The agents that do this — and I hate to say this, but how are they any better than a pimp?
“I have no respect for people who do that to young people. None. How would you feel if they did it to your child?”
Agents, not national titles, was the primary topic on Day 1 at the Wynfrey Hotel. Three SEC teams — Florida, Alabama and South Carolina — are investigating allegations involving improper contact with an agent. Saban and SEC commissioner Mike Slive both emphatically said it was time for a change to NCAA rules governing agents.
Saban confirmed that Alabama is looking into a trip defensive end Marcell Dareus took to an agent’s party at Miami’s South Beach. South Carolina is looking into claims from the same South Beach party with tight end Weslye Saunders.
Georgia associate athletic director Claude Felton confirmed that the NCAA requested permission Wednesday to conduct an inquiry on the Bulldogs’ campus. He would not say what the inquiry was about or whether it was related to the South Beach party.
Florida and the NCAA are reportedly investigating whether offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey — now an NFL rookie with the Pittsburgh Steelers — received $100,000 from a sports agent’s representative between the SEC championship game and the Sugar Bowl.
Pouncey denied the allegation.
Tiger’s endorsements take hit
New York — Tiger Woods’ estimated endorsements for 2010 are worth $22 million less than last year, according to Sports Illustrated’s annual analysis of the highest-earning American athletes.
Woods is still No. 1 on the list, as he has been for the rankings’ seven years. But his estimated total earnings of more than $90 million are down 30 percent from nearly $128 million two years ago.
Ex-Seton Hall coach pleads not guilty
Newark, N.J. — Former Seton Hall basketball coach Bobby Gonzalez pleaded not guilty Wednesday to shoplifting a satchel at an upscale shopping mall last month.
L.A.’s Torre, Kershaw disciplined
Los Angeles — Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, manager Joe Torre and bench coach Bob Schaefer were all suspended Wednesday. Kershaw was handed a five-game suspension for intentionally throwing at Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand Tuesday. Torre received a one-game suspension for Kershaw’s actions after the plate umpire issued a warning to both benches in the fifth inning.
Jefferson back with Spurs
San Antonio — Richard Jefferson was a way-overpriced $14 million swingman in San Antonio last season.
His new deal likely will give the Spurs more for their money. The Spurs re-signed Jefferson to a multiyear deal Wednesday, nearly a month after the nine-year veteran opted out of a guaranteed $15.2 million next season. Terms of his new deal weren’t disclosed, but Jefferson was willing to give up the final year of his bloated deal for longer-term security.
Hornets hiring Demps as GM
New Orleans — A person familiar with the hiring says Dell Demps has agreed to become the New Orleans Hornets’ next general manager. It’s expected to become official today.
Demps has been in the San Antonio Spurs’ front office the past five years, most recently as vice president of basketball operations under general manager R.C Buford.
Ravens safety to miss six games
Baltimore — Ravens Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed says he expects to miss the start of the regular season while he recovers from offseason hip surgery.
Reed told 105.7 The Fan he expects to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which requires a player to miss the first six games of the season.
Pair of drivers put on probation
NASCAR docked star Carl Edwards 60 Nationwide Series driver points, fined him $25,000 and placed both Edwards and Brad Keselowski on probation through Dec. 31 following their last-lap antics at Gateway International Raceway.