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Maddie Meyer/Getty Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders may be the head coach of Jackson State's football team, but his passion for the college sport extends beyond campus.
During a Southwestern Athletic Conference call on Monday, the former NFL star, 54, offered to help his school's in-state rival secure full-time trainers for their student athletes after Alcorn State Braves coach Fred McNair revealed that his players had to recently miss practice due to a lack of available resources.
"If I can help, I'm going to help. Immediately. This is bigger than the little rivalry," he told reporters in a recording captured by HBCU Sports.
During the call, Sanders also said that he wishes coaches can "have the relationship that we could call each other" for assistance during a time of need, adding that Alcorn State's student athletes "deserve to get down."
"They deserve to play," said Sanders, who described McNair, 52, as "a darn good coach."
"My brother McNair, if you can hit me right now, if you have a problem, call me," Sanders added in a message to his fellow coach. "This is about these kids, man. And I got love for that brother. He's a good dude."
Steve Jennings/Getty Deion Sanders
Last week, McNair said on his radio show that the NCAA requires a certified athletic trainer be present during practice, but his team "didn't have one" available on campus when they were scheduled to train on Sept. 13, according to Football Scoop.
"This is something that needs to be fixed. This is an administration issue," McNair said at the time, per the outlet. "This has got to be fixed. We've got to be able to pay somebody to be the Alcorn State athletic trainer, and we don't have one. That's disheartening."
Local news station WLTB previously reported that the Braves had to miss practice due to COVID-19 complications among their current trainers. In a statement to the outlet last week, ASU athletic director Derek Horne confirmed that the school's "teams have modified their practice schedules because of a COVID-19 related issue."
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Alcorn State has only been using part-time trainers this season and does not have a full-time trainer on staff, according to the Clarion-Ledger.
When asked about Alcorn State's situation during Monday's virtual press conference, Sanders said the school's lack of full-time trainers was not McNair's fault.
"Now, that's a problem up top. That's not him," Sanders said. "That's a problem somewhere else there that's a problem for him. We need to address that, and whoever is allowing that to happen needs to be checked."
Sanders added of McNair, "That's one of our treasures in the HBCU. We've got to have his back."