Sunday, May 4, 2003

Price fired as Alabama football coach

Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal

The University of Alabama fired football coach Mike Price on Saturday for actions that included a trip to a topless bar in Pensacola.

University president Robert Witt said that Price failed to live his "personal and professional life in a manner consistent with university policies."

Price, who was hired in December from Washington State, never got to coach a game at Alabama.

He asked Witt for a second chance, but the president declined.

"To the university and the entire 'Bama Nation, I admit making mistakes and at times inappropriate behavior, but I also ask for your forgiveness," Price said.

Price, 57, came to Pensacola on April 16 to participate the next day in the celebrity pro-am at the Emerald Coast Classic Champions Tour golf event at The Moors Golf Club.

After a pro-am party that night, Price went to Arety's Angels, a Pensacola strip club, where he spent more than $100.

Reports also said later that night, he brought a woman to his room at the Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel, where she ordered $1,000 worth of room service.

Price played in the pro-am the next day.

On Saturday, he attended a public session with the university trustees in Tuscaloosa, Ala., with his two sons for his coaching staff, and his wife.

He then had a private meeting with Witt.

After Witt announced the firing, Price said: "I apologize to my wife, the team and my coaches. I will learn from this."

Witt called Price "a great coach, a good man," but the president added that Price failed to live up to responsibilities that come with the job of head coach at Alabama.

Witt said that Price was warned before that trip about his public behavior.

"Everybody makes mistakes," quarterback Brodie Croyle said. "You can rest assured it won't happen again."

Prices' sons spoke on his behalf.

"In his 57 years, there's been one moment in his life he didn't act appropriately," Aaron Price said.

Price had yet to sign a seven-year contract worth $10 million with Alabama. The deal had a clause saying he could be fired for any behavior "that brings (the) employee into public disrepute, contempt, scandal, or ridicule or that reflects unfavorably upon the reputation or the high moral or ethical standards of the University."

Witt said he regretted the "period of uncertainty" for Alabama players who now must wait to see who their new coach will be. The previous coach, Dennis Franchione, left abruptly after last season for Texas A&M.

The football team's probation stems from rules violations under Coach Mike DuBose, who was forced out in 2000 during a 3-8 season.

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