Alabama coach Nick Saban spoke Thursday with reporters of how his team is adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic by using different methods to keep his players in shape.
The Crimson Tide has provided Apple Watches to monitor the players’ home workouts, but that idea might have circumvented NCAA compliance guidelines according to various reports.
According to Saban, the use of Apple Watches was part of a plan from the team’s new strength directors David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea.
“We have a good plan in place from Apple Watches to apps on their phone for weight training. We had some issues with some players not being able to work out because high schools are closed, so we put them on band workout programs, so they’ve done a good job managing it and players have done a good job responding to it,” Saban said.
Yet there is a bit of uncertainty if Alabama is going against NCAA rules that do not allow teams to supervise workouts and what players are doing to stay in shape on their own. Earlier in the week, the NCAA released the Division I COVID-19 Question and Answer Guide that said schools can distribute voluntary workouts but coaches and staff members “may not supervise or conduct such workouts” and that athletes “may not report voluntary athletically related activities to institutional coaches or staff members.”
Alabama has said they are not supervising any workouts, and only director of sports medicine Jeff Allen is viewing any collected information from the Apple Watch to monitor health-related data according to ESPN.
“The SEC is aware that Alabama provided Apple Watches to some of our student-athletes,” said Matt Self, Alabama’s senior associate athletics director for compliance. “We are in constant communication with the SEC discussing the appropriate manner in which to utilize these and any other resources to provide for the health and well-being of our student-athletes during this crisis.”
Other coaches like Clemson’s Dabo Swinney said they aren’t sure if tracking devices like Apple Watches can be used and what Alabama is doing could be interpreted as circumventing NCAA rules.
“I don’t know, maybe [Alabama] got a different interpretation or something,” Swinney said in a conference call Friday, reported by ESPN. “There are a lot of different interpretations out there right now.”
“We don’t need an Apple Watch to know our guys are doing the right thing,” Swinney added.