Alabama case spotlights Emmert, Saban friendship NCAA observers are watching closely to see how the association handles allegations that a former Alabama football player accepted impermissible benefits while at the school. NCAA President Mark Emmert has a special relationship with Alabama head football coach Nick Saban. As chancellor at LSU from 1999 to 2004, Emmert hired Saban as his football coach and eventually helped make him the highest-paid coach in the nation at $2.3 million. "Chancellor Emmert is absolutely the best boss I've ever had," Saban said at LSU in 2004. "He's the most significant reason I was interested in the job. Never once has he disappointed me." Alabama has two perceived friends in high places: Emmert and Alabama graduate Derrick Crawford, a director of enforcement for the NCAA. In the outside world, it's akin to being accused of a crime and having the charges investigated at the police station where your uncle is the police chief and your friend is the top detective.