Jonathan Taylor no longer at Alabama

ByChris Low ESPN logo
Friday, April 3, 2015

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama spokeswoman Deborah Lane said in a statement Thursday that former defensive tackle "Jonathan Taylor is no longer a student at The University of Alabama and is not eligible for readmission," even though the accuser in Taylor's domestic violence case recanted her story to police that Taylor assaulted her.

Consequently, Alabama coach Nick Saban said that Taylor will not return to the team. He dismissed Taylor from the Tide on Sunday.

"That decision has already been made. He won't be back with us," Saban told on Thursday.

A deposition released Thursday by Tuscaloosa County District Court indicates the 24-year-old woman, identified as Gina Marie Nawab, said the bruises on her neck were self-inflicted and damage to a door in her apartment was already there.

She was charged with false reporting to law enforcement.

"She made it up to get back at him for cheating on her in December and she thought he was cheating again," the deposition said.

Tuscaloosa Police Lt. Kip Hart said Wednesday that the charges against Taylor will be reviewed after the woman said in interviews with police over two days that she made up the story and that he didn't hurt her.

Attorney Kim Stephens, who's representing Taylor in a pending Georgia domestic violence case, said his client has maintained all along he didn't assault Nawab.

"I know he's upset and I know that he's been adamant that he didn't do anything as far as touching her improperly or hitting her or choking her," Stephens said. "Nothing criminal in nature.

"He's happy that she recanted but unfortunately it put the university in an untenable position where they had to take action and there was only one action they could take."

Taylor is scheduled for arraignment next Tuesday in Athens on charges of aggravated assault, battery and simple battery from an incident that led to his July dismissal from Georgia. The 6-foot-4, 335-pound Taylor allegedly punched and kicked his girlfriend at the time.

Stephens said he will enter a not guilty plea. He said he worries that publicity in any case can influence jurors, "especially when there are allegations of domestic violence, because there's a natural tendency to think just because allegations are made, they must be true."

Similar allegations from another woman, even if they're later recanted, "makes for a much more difficult case," he said.

Saban, who defended giving Taylor another chance after his Georgia dismissal amid criticism with the decision, said Taylor had been undergoing counseling at Alabama but was signed under a zero-tolerance policy.

"I never want to discontinue giving kids opportunities," Saban told ESPN. "If you're a coach, you're a teacher. Teachers are always trying to inspire people to do better, to learn, to grow. That's what we do, and we're proud of the success we've had here doing that and it's something we'll certainly continue to do."

Saban also apologized for Monday's testy news conference in which he would not apologize for signing Taylor, but did say he was "very, very sorry for the way this worked out." On Thursday, Saban said it was never his intention to come across as insensitive to domestic violence.

"Look, I didn't handle it the best way and I take responsibility for that, but I certainly didn't mean for it to come across that I was insensitive to the seriousness of domestic violence," Saban told

"I'm not insensitive to this issue. I'm very sensitive to it and will continue to be, but I also believe in giving kids chances. That's the point I was trying to make. I'm sorry for the incident, sorry for the people involved in the incident, sorry this ever happened, sorry for our team, sorry for the university. I'm sorry in every way. But I'm not sorry for giving the guy an opportunity because that sets you up to never be able to give the next guy an opportunity."

While many officials on Alabama's campus were involved in Taylor's vetting process, Saban said he's ultimately responsible for all players the Crimson Tide bring into the football program.

"I never tried to act like it wasn't my fault," Saban told "I take responsibility for everything that happened and the fact that it didn't work this time. I've learned from this experience, but you've got to move on so you can make the best decision when another situation comes up. It's not being vindictive. It's not trying to make people think that I'm going to prove to you that I'm right.

"That's not the issue here. The issue is the kids, the players, the people. We'll be better because of this going forward."

The last week was a forgettable one for Alabama's football program. Three players were arrested in four days. In addition to Taylor, running back Tyren Jones was dismissed from the team after being arrested on a marijuana possession charge, and safety Geno Smith remains suspended following his second DUI arrest.

Senior center Ryan Kelly said the flurry of off-the-field issues is not indicative of what Alabama football is about.

"I know when things like this happen, it reflects on all of us," Kelly said. "But for all the guys who do the right things and represent themselves well outside the program, those are the guys who are hurt the most unfortunately. It's obviously not something coach Saban stands for, and we don't stand for it as a program. Nobody's perfect, and there are always going to be people who don't do the right things. But we feel that the majority of our team ... that's not who we are."'sAlex Scarborough and Chris Low and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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