Alabama assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Harris has been placed on administrative leave for providing impermissible benefits to safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Tuscaloosa News reported on Thursday.
Harris made a short-term loan of less than $500 to Clinton-Dix this summer, according to the Tuscaloosa News. This action would be a violation of NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52, which states that “an institutional employee or representative of the institution’s athletics interests may not provide a student-athlete with extra benefits or services, including, but not limited to…a loan of money.”
Alabama’s compliance department apparently found a link between Harris and a representative of a sports agent but have no reason to believe that Clinton-Dix ever had contact with an agent. Clinton-Dix paid back the loan to Harris and showed the school’s compliance department his bank records, per the report. Alabama will likely keep Clinton-Dix suspended until the conclusion of an internal investigation.
A hoarse Nick Saban said at his press conference on Wednesday that Clinton-Dix had been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules and policies. Saban said that he never comments on suspensions and would not hint at a specific length for Clinton-Dix’s suspension.
“I’m going to be consistent. When guys get suspended, I never ever say what it’s for,” Saban said. “I’m not going there, so don’t ask me.
“It’s the way it always happens. Every guy. They do right, they wouldn’t be getting suspended. And I don’t know for how long this will be, so don’t ask me that either.”
While it’s never a good thing for a starter and defensive leader to be suspended, this news comes at the best possible time for Alabama. With their next four games against Georgia State at home, away at Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee at home, followed by a bye week, Clinton-Dix’s presence isn’t as necessary as it will be against LSU on Nov. 9.
The potential violations that Clinton-Dix committed are decently negligible and should have Ha Ha back in uniform before the LSU game, if not sooner.
Clinton-Dix, a junior, is a key player on Alabama’s defense and has accounted for 24 tackles this season, the second-highest tackle total on the team behind C.J. Mosley.
In his absence, safety Geno Smith – who was suspended for Week 1 after a DUI – and cornerback Landon Collins – who has been stellar on special teams coverage this season – have been working at Clinton-Dix’s position this week in practice. Safety Nick Perry would be his obvious replacement, but Perry is out for the season after having shoulder surgery.
Though it’s unclear when the team was informed, defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan said that the other defensive players would fill the void.
“He’s a great player, obviously he’ll be missed,” Pagan said. “But I’m confident in the guys we have behind him and the guys in the secondary to make adjustments. I think we’ll be alright.”