Price could lose Alabama job before coaching a game

Friday, May 2nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) _ Mike Price could be forced out at Alabama before ever coaching a game.

Four months after taking over the scandal-tarnished Crimson Tide football program, Price met with school officials Thursday amid reports he spent hundreds of dollars at a topless bar and that a woman charged more than $1,000 in food and drinks to his hotel bill.

His future at Alabama could be decided at a trustees meeting Saturday. University president Robert Witt called for the meeting ``to present and discuss his decision regarding Price's status as head football coach.''

This could become yet another black mark on a program that has won six national championships but is now on NCAA probation.

It's not clear if the trustees will take action Saturday.

``This review involves careers and lives, and it has been imperative that it be thorough,'' said Witt, who met with Price and athletic director Mal Moore on Thursday.

Price was hired away from Washington State in December.

The probation came after Mike DuBose was forced out during a 3-8 season in 2000, having survived an admission of lying about his relationship with his secretary. The university agreed to pay the woman $350,000 to settle accusations of sexual harassment, but opted to let DuBose keep his job.

Popular coach Dennis Franchione bolted for Texas A&M after winning 10 games in his second season. Alabama then turned to Price.

Price's contract, which remains unsigned, has a ``for cause'' clause which says he can 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.''

Price came under university scrutiny after spending time at a nightclub in Pensacola, Fla., last month while in town for a pro-am golf tournament.

Price bought some drinks for himself and dancers, club owner Arety Kapetanis said, but ``did not leave with anyone from our club.''

``He did not appear to be or act intoxicated. It was good, clean fun,'' Kapetanis said.

The next morning, a woman in a hotel room registered to Price reportedly ordered more than $1,000 in food and drinks _ one of everything on the menu _ and wanted it to go.

The hotel contacted Price about the unusual order, and he returned later in the day and paid the bill after the woman left, the Register said. She was not allowed to leave with the order.

The 57-year-old Price is married and has two sons on his coaching staff.

A group of players went to Price's office Thursday to show support. Quarterback Brodie Croyle described Price's mood as ``somewhat ashamed, somewhat embarrassed.''

``He shot straight with us,'' Croyle said. ``We even stopped him halfway through his story, and we're like, 'Coach, that's enough. We're behind you, and we're going to stick behind you no matter what.'''