The Tuscaloosa News reported the story first Thursday afternoon.
The report said Harris was found to have had a connection to a representative of a sports agent, but Clinton-Dix had no contact with any agent representatives.
Clinton-Dix, who was suspended indefinitely Wednesday, received a short-term loan from Harris of less than $500 at some point in the summer in violation of NCAA rules. The report also said Clinton-Dix repaid the loan and provided bank statements to Alabama’s compliance department to prove it.
Employees are not permitted to provide loans of any sort to student-athletes because it is considered to be an impermissible benefit, per NCAA bylaw 220.127.116.11.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban has not commented on Thursday’s report and fielded no questions about it during his weekly radio show Thursday night.
ESPN.com, citing an anonymous source, reported Clinton-Dix is the only player involved and is expected to be eligible to play “within the month.”
Dr. David Ridpath, an associated professor of sports administration at Ohio University, told al.com Clinton-Dix’s penalty won’t last “a long period of time.”
“It is certainly a serious issue, and Alabama is acting correctly in how they’ve addressed it so far,” Ridpath told al.com. “I think the fact that he’s already paid the money back is probably going to be seen as a mitigating circumstance. I’m just not sure the NCAA has a leg to stand on there in terms of penalizing him for a long period of time.”
John Infante, a former compliance official at Loyola Marymount and Colorado State and author of the Bylaw Blog for AthleticScholarships.net, told al.com the situation is similar to two recent infractions cases, one with the coach, Harris, and one with the player Clinton-Dix.
“From the coach’s perspective, it sounds like a mini John Blake at (North Carolina),” Infante said.
Blake is a former assistant coach at North Carolina. He was accused of accepting cash from a sports agent and was given a three-year show-cause penalty from the NCAA.
Harris is one of nine assistant strength and conditioning coaches employed by the University of Alabama.
“From Clinton-Dix’s perspective, even if the coach is deemed an agent, it is still not that serious of a violation,” Infante told al.com. “Marcell Dareus was in line for a four-game suspension before mitigating circumstances and he was found to have received over $2,000 from an agent.”
In 2010, Dareus was suspended for two games when he received $1,787.17 worth of improper benefits from an agent. Initially, the suspension was four games, but the NCAA reduced it to two because of “mitigating circumstances.” Dareus’ situation was resolved by the NCAA in fewer than two months.
Clinton-Dix, a third-year junior, is considered one of the nation’s best safeties and is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
He ranks second on the team with 24 tackles and also has two pass deflections.
On the field, Saban said sophomores Geno Smith and Landon Collins have worked in Clinton-Dix’s position.