Alabama coach Nick Saban ((pictured, thanks Hal Yeager/Birmingham News)) and members of his staff were proactive.
Prior to receiving the penalties from the NCAA for widespread violations of a textbook disbursement policy, Saban said he and his staff explained the various possibilities to recruits. They spoke of the probability of probation and informed them when the news broke that the team would not be docked future scholarships.
Yet Saban says some reporters for recruiting fan sites have been unfair in what they are telling prospects about Alabama's situation. He said that the writers have been passing on to 2010 prospects incorrect and potentially damaging information about what the sanctions mean for UA."That should be addressed by somebody and should be brought to bear," Saban said. "If people are just covering recruiting with honesty and integrity, (there's no problem). But all those guys that work out there for (recruiting sites) are for the school. Everybody roots for a team. And they get information for a team."
Saban did not name a specific incident. If the allegations are true, the reporters would be in violation of the rules of their own Web sites.
Reporters for the two leading sites - Rivals.com and Scout.com - must sign a code of ethics when they are hired as a way of ensuring integrity in reporting. Saban's remarks sent the companies scurrying as they attempted to find the guilty party.
On June 11, the NCAA handed Alabama a punishment of three years' probation, 21 vacated wins for the football team, and a fine. President Robert Witt has said the school will appeal.
Saban took solace in the fact that there were no future scholarship losses. Perhaps to calm recruits and fans, Witt pointed out that, "There is no evidence or allegations of other NCAA violations."
Yet what Saban indicated is his feeling that coaches fed information to reporters - whether from Scout.com, Rivals.com, local ESPN.com affiliates or others - who would then deliver a negative messages to recruits.
That has led Saban to attempt to track down the source of the information.
"And every (prospect) that I had any kind of issue with over this, I'd say, `Well, where did you get that information?'" Saban said. "(The player would respond), `Well, these media guys that call me tell me.' I'd say, `Which ones?'"
It would always come from a reporter who covers a team's recruiting on a fan site, he said.
Part of the issue is that when the players are out of school, coaches cannot always reach them on the phone. When making phone calls to recruits is banned or limited, the conversations are few.
"We're not allowed to talk to these guys now, so we have a (heck) of a time getting a hold of them when they're out of school and it's not call time," Saban said. "But these (reporters) can call them all the time."
If Saban was asking the NCAA for help with the issue, assistance may not be on the way.
Speaking generally, spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said the NCAA may only impose rules on its members. Therefore, the rules cover coaches but not scouting services.
"As such, we cannot limit the amount of calls from a recruiting service to a prospective student-athlete," she said, "as the recruiting services are under no obligation to follow our rules since they are not one of our voluntary members."
If reporters appear to be assisting a school in recruiting, there is a possibility they may be classified as boosters (or "representatives of athletic interests") by the NCAA. If that happens, they would be prohibited by NCAA bylaws from calling a prospective recruit or members of his family.
Representatives for Scout.com and Rivals.com were not available for comment.