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Texas ex Brian Jones: Donors pressuring Steve Sarkisian to play certain players based on race

Texas AD Chris Del Conte: ‘None of that’s true. That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. Absolutely absurd.’

Texas ex Brian Jones, now a national college football analyst for CBS Sports, said Friday he knows of five to six “heavy-handed donors” who are pressuring coach Steve Sarkisian to play certain players based on their race.

On 104.9 The Horn, UT’s flagship radio station, Jones said Alabama coach Nick Saban warned Sarkisian about taking the UT job and “it’s just a shame, man.”

“I thought we were all in this to win,” Jones said on The Horn. “And there’s no way you’re going to win when you’re asking or trying to dictate to your head coach who plays and in some instances it’s crossing color lines, which is definitely unfortunate.

“But I’m not terribly surprised there, either,” Jones continued. “All you have to do is revisit those emails last year, a year and a half ago when we were discussing The Eyes of Texas. So, it's just a huge shame and it needs to stop right now.”

While boarding a flight in Austin to leave for Morgantown, W. Va., Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said, “That’s completely untrue. None of that’s true. That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. Absolutely absurd.”

Jones did not specify the players or position groups he was referencing.

Asked by the radio show’s host to elaborate, Jones said, “I don't want to be a detriment to that program, and therefore I've decided not to share that. At some point, I may be forced to put that out there. But I'm not going to do it.”

Jones’ interview comes at the end of an interesting week. Del Conte issued a statement to fans that was meant to express full support of Sarkisian and detail the team’s depth issues. Then, Kevin Eltife, the chairman of the UT System Board of Regents went to practice Thursday to speak with Sarkisian and express his support as well.

Eyes on Texas: Not to ‘make excuses,’ Del Conte points to attrition for Longhorns’ woes

“These guys have been unbelievably supportive of me, the staff and the program from day one and continue to be,” Sarkisian told reporters on Thursday. “And I think that's just an awesome sign.”

Jones did not return a message or text left by the American-Statesman. Raised in Lubbock, Jones played one season at UCLA and then transferred to Texas. He was an All-Southwest Conference linebacker on the 1990 “Shock the Nation” team that finished 10-2.

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian warms up with his team before an NCAA college football game against Kansas in Austin, Saturday, Nov., 13, 2021.

“There's a lack of trust in that locker room, because guys are being told one thing to their face and then other things are transpiring because of all the other cooks that are trying to manipulate this football program,” Jones said on The Horn. “So, I don't know how it gets fixed other than pleading with these five or six heavy-handed donors to leave the damn football program alone.”

Having lost five straight games, Texas (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) must win its two final regular-season games to become bowl eligible. UT plays at West Virginia (4-6, 2-5) on Saturday.

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.