Nick Saban makes pitch to fans as Alabama launches ‘Yea Alabama’ NIL entity
Alabama became the latest school on Thursday to launch a subscription-based name, image and likeness entity where fans can contribute money that is paid to players.
Nick Saban was part of the “Yea Alabama” launch advertising campaign, which was announced by the university in a press release.
“Alabama fans, we need you behind us,” Saban said in a promotional video posted to the new “Yea Alabama” Twitter account.
Saban added in a statement: “I have always believed that our players should have the chance to benefit from their name, their image and their likeness. Yea Alabama is an exciting new resource to help Crimson Tide student-athletes create value for themselves through a variety of NIL opportunities. The Alabama brand is one of the most powerful in sports, and our partnership with Yea Alabama provides our athletes with exposure unmatched in college athletics.
The new Alabama schools-sponsored NIL entity was created after the NCAA issued guidelines in October that allowed schools to become more involved in NIL fundraising. Previously, schools could not partner directly with NIL activities of their booster “collectives,” which included Alabama’s “High Tide Traditions,” launched last year.
High Tide Traditions’ social media accounts had been taken down Thursday morning, although its website remained active.
Schools have begun to publicly align with their collectives in recent months, with LSU earlier this week announcing its NIL entity “Bayou Traditions” to raise money to pay its players.
The Alabama entity includes a monthly subscription payment in which fans receive “exclusive year-round content” in exchange for their player payments.
“100% of subscription fees generated by Yea Alabama [go] directly to student-athletes at the University of Alabama,” the school’s press release read.
This complements the school’s non-profit fundraising efforts, as well as traditional NIL sponsorship opportunities between corporations and players.
“Yea Alabama’s approach is both forward-thinking and sustainable in an ever-changing NIL environment,” Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne said in a statement. “Having a platform that allows supporters, subscribers and businesses to engage is so beneficial. This is another way for every ‘Bama fan to support our student-athletes, and we fully support Yea Alabama.
The NCAA still maintains that players must perform service in return for the NIL payments they receive, and that NIL contracts cannot state that a player attends a specific school to receive payment.
In addition to Saban, the promotional video for “Yea Alabama” included appearances from Byrne, several school coaches, and several football, men’s basketball, and softball players.
Saban supported players’ right to earn money through sponsorships, but spoke out openly against other aspects of NIL’s growing presence in college football. On several occasions over the past year, Saban has expressed his belief that fans and boosters shouldn’t be able to pay players directly.
“I think one of the solutions would be for you to have representatives from your school who donate money to a [third-party NIL] collective, then the collective turns around and gives it to the players on the team — money, I’m not saying opportunities to represent, I’m saying money — then that collective should become a representative of the institution and they shouldn’t be able to give a player money, just like an alumnus can’t give a player money,” Saban told ESPN in May 2022. “Now if I’m a old and want to go through the marketing agent to create an opportunity for a player to represent my company, whether it’s Coke or Mercedes-Benz or Tyson Foods or whatever, that’s fine. That’s what the name, image and likeness was meant to be.
“But if alumni donate money, or if money is raised through a collective to be used to give to players, it’s no different than alumni donate money. to the player, so the collective becomes a representative of the school and cannot do it.”
Saban also spoke about NIL’s use in recruiting, including speaking to Alabama high school football coaches last month in Montgomery. Saban told the room that he turned down a recruit asking for $800,000 in exchange for his commitment, and that a transfer player from Alabama asked for $500,000 and admission to law school so that his girlfriend stay with team.
Mike Rodak is a Beat Alabama reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.