Saban responds to allegations Fluker accepted improer benefits
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Sep 11, 2013 | 4129 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TUSCALOOSA – After finishing his opening statement, Alabama coach Nick Saban was asked three questions during his Wednesday news conference. All three were about allegations that former offensive lineman D.J. Fluker received improper benefits while with the Crimson Tide.

According to a Yahoo! Sports report released Wednesday afternoon, Fluker is one of five SEC football players named as receiving benefits that could violate NCAA rules. The others named are Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, Tennessee defensive end Maurice Couch, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Mississippi State wideout Chad Bumphis.

The report notes the benefits came from multiple sources and involves sports agents. It is based on financial and text message records of former Tide defensive lineman Luther Davis.

Current Alabama defensive lineman Ed Stinson was also named in the report, but was not accused of any wrongdoing.

Saban said he hadn't read the article because he had just come from practice. He initially told reporters to refer to a statement released by Alabama athletic director Bill Battle.

When asked when he became aware of the allegations, Saban told reporters to ask Battle.

"I already told you. You want to know that, ask him (Bill Battle)," Saban said. "We've done a lot of investigating about a lot of things. Every time somebody brings something up about our program, we investigate it, we do the best we can, there's nobody in this organization that wants to do anything that's not above board and we don't want our players to do it either.

"That's not what the program's built on, and that's not what we're going to do. But as I said before, I made a statement, don't ask me any more questions about this."

As the second question was being asked, Saban became noticeably angry. Saban was asked if the story would be a distraction to the team.

"It hasn't been distracting to me because I don't read about it," Saban said. "I'm focused on what we need to do to play a game. That's what's fair to our players, and that's what we owe our current players. So this has not been a distraction for me. We have really good people who will manage this, and if anybody didn't do the right things, we'll take appropriate action to take care of it."

Finally, when asked about the timing of the article and how it would affect the team, Saban exploded.

"I've already answered it three times," Saban said. "Who else wants -- can we get in a line and everybody ask the question? We will handle it appropriately. Bill made a statement. This is an administrative issue that our leadership will do a very, very good job of managing. If you want to talk about the Texas A&M game, I'll be glad to talk about it. That's what I'm here to do. I'm here to coach our players, talk about our team."

No more questions were raised and as Saban stepped away from the podium, he said, "Appreciate your interest in the game."

In Battle’s statement released by the school, the athletics director said, “We have been aware of some of the allegations in today's story and our compliance department was looking into this situation prior to being notified that this story was actually going to be published. Our review is ongoing. We diligently educate our student-athletes on maintaining compliance with NCAA rules, and will continue to do so."

In April, Fluker tweeted he received money while in college, but his agent said his account was hacked.

"Yea I took $ n college so wat. I did wat I had to do. Agents was tryin to pimp me so I pimped them. Cast da first stone," the post said.

Yahoo! reported it authenticated transactions between Fluker and Davis involving cash transfers, hotel stays, furniture purchases, flights and other expenses.

If proven, the allegations would be in violation of NCAA rules, which could impact Fluker's eligibility retroactively.

Alabama is no longer on NCAA probation for a textbook scandal from 2007. The probation ended June 12, 2012.
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