- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Alabama and coach Nick Saban are defending the decision to block defensive back Maurice Smith’s transfer to Georgia.

Smith has graduated and sought a release from his scholarship entering his final season. Saban blocked his transfer to Southeastern Conference schools.

The statement released through media relations Thursday said Alabama officials “remain happy to assist Maurice to enable a transfer to any non-SEC school, and have been doing everything requested regarding that throughout this process.”

Smith was spotted around the football building when the Crimson Tide held its first practice on Thursday. Saban addressed the situation after practice and said Smith had opportunities to go to schools outside the SEC.

“I know there’s a lot of talk out there and interest in the Maurice Smith deal,” Saban said. “Nothing has changed. We support the SEC rule of not granting guys’ release to go to other SEC schools. It has been our policy here not to do that unless there was a special circumstance.”

Saban declined to comment when asked if he felt there was a chance that Smith could wind up at Georgia.

The statement noted that wide receiver Chris Black was allowed to transfer to Missouri after he had surgery in the middle of last season and left the program. Black’s scholarship had not been renewed. Alabama said the decision to support a waiver from the SEC in Black’s case “was the exception and not the rule.”

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