AP Photo/Vasha Hunt
Miami-area billionaire and University of Miami booster John Ruiz clapped back at Alabama head football coach Nick Saban on Saturday after Saban’s recent comments about the NCAA’s name, image and likeness rules’ role in recruiting.
Saban took aim at multiple programs while talking to local business leaders Wednesday in advance of the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, saying the following about Miami, per AL.com’s Mark Heim:
“These guys at Miami that are going to play basketball there for $400,000, that’s in the newspaper. The guy tells you how he’s doing it. But the NCAA can’t enforce their rules because it’s not against the law, and that’s an issue, that’s a problem. And unless we get something that protects them from litigation, I don’t know what we’re going to do about it.”
Per Heim, Saban was referencing men’s basketball player Nijel Pack, who transferred from Kansas State to Miami and agreed to a $400,000 NIL deal.
Ruiz had plenty to say about Saban’s comments to the Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson, including: “It felt like a little teenager whining about why previously they had free reign and all of a sudden when you level the playing field [it changes for Saban]. It was very ugly of him.”
“Shocked, shocked that somebody in the business for such a long time and on top of his game was totally clueless of what all of this means. He basically said, ‘I’m losing my market dominance because of everything that is going on’ and then starts … throwing everyone under the bus.”
Ruiz also called Saban’s comments a “very, very poor display of judgment and character,” and said it was “totally inappropriate the way he conducted himself and handled everything.”
Miami wasn’t the only school Saban took aim at Wednesday, as he also mentioned Texas A&M and Jackson State.
Per ESPN’s Alex Scarborough, Saban said head coach Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies “bought every player on their team—made a deal for name, image, likeness.”
He also referenced a report that 5-star recruit Travis Hunter spurned Florida State in favor of head coach Deion Sanders and Jackson State in exchange for $1 million, though Sanders and Hunter denied that.
Fisher took great exception to Saban’s comments, calling them “despicable” and saying Saban is a “narcissist,” according to ESPN’s Dave Wilson.
On Saturday, Saban appeared on ESPN’s PGA Championship simulcast and told Joe Buck, “It was not my intention to really criticize anyone,” per AL.com’s Mike Rodak.
With regard to Miami basketball, the addition of Pack could be huge since the program was already on the rise.
The Hurricanes went 26-11 and reached the Elite Eight last season. They could be even better with Pack, who averaged 17.4 points per game with 43.6 percent three-point shooting during the 2021-22 campaign.