Are Alabama’s Apple Watches Illegal?
The NCAA cancelled spring sports, the SEC cancelled spring practices, all team activities are suspended, so how are the Alabama football players maintaining their physical fitness?
Nick Saban revealed on a conference call that the program issued its players Apple Watches while they are spending time apart. Saban credited the new director of sports performance David Ballou and the director of performance science Dr. Matt Rhea with creating workout programs that cater to the players resources.
Apple watches are quite expensive so it led many to question whether purchasing them for the players was a violation of NCAA rules. Alabama's Senior Associate AD for Compliance Matt Self put out a statement shortly after coach Saban's teleconference.
The next issue Alabama football faces is whether or not the use of the watches falls under the NCAA's interpretation of "supervision". The NCAA stated that during this time apart from one another that coaches or other staff members "may not supervise or conduct such workouts" and that players, "may not report voluntary athletically related activities to institutional coaches or staff members."
The football program maintains that only Director of Sports Medicine Jeff Allen if viewing the data compiled and transmitted by the Apple Watches in order to monitor each players sleep patterns and physical activity levels.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney publicly questioned the Tide's use of the watches saying, "I don't know, maybe (Alabama) got a different interpretation or something. There are a lot different interpretations out there right now."
Swinney went on to take a shot at the Alabama program stating, "Our guys are putting the work in. I don't need an Apple Watch to track them, They're putting the work in."
Saban, always one to seek out every advantage, is making the best out of this uncertain time in our country with the COVID-19 pandemic. Are the steps he's taken against the NCAA's rules on supervision and monitoring, or perhaps giving out the watches to begin with are against the rules on what a school can provide his players?
Should the NCAA state that the Crimson Tide is in compliance with the rules, you can bet several other programs will follow suit and most college football players will be decked out in Apple Watches for the remainder of the pandemic.