Meeting on bad terms
Price, 'Bama officials discuss woman, $1K hotel billPosted: Thursday May 01, 2003 10:08 AM
Updated: Friday May 02, 2003 12:08 AM
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama coach Mike Price met with university officials Thursday amid revelations of a free-spending night at a topless bar in Florida and that a young woman tried to charge more than $1,000 in food and drinks to his hotel bill the next morning.
The fate of the former Washington State coach could be decided at a trustees meeting on Saturday, months before he is scheduled to coach his first game for the Crimson Tide.
University President Robert Witt and athletic director Mal Moore met with Price Thursday morning. Witt called a meeting of the board of trustees' athletics committee and other board members for Saturday "to present and discuss his decision regarding Price's status as head football coach," a university statement said.
Price, 57, came under university scrutiny after spending time at a nightclub called Arety's Angels in Pensacola, Fla., on April 16, while in town for a pro-am golf tournament the next day.
"He was here and he was a perfect gentleman," club owner Arety Kapetanis told The Associated Press on Thursday. "He did not leave with anyone from our club."
While at the topless club, Price bought some drinks for himself and dancers but did not hug them, Kapetanis said. He did hug a waitress who was clothed, however, and quickly backed off when told touching was not allowed, she said.
"He did not appear to be or act intoxicated. It was good, clean fun," Kapetanis told the AP.
The next morning, a woman reportedly ordered more than $1,000 in food and drinks -- one of everything on the menu -- and charged it to Price's hotel room at the Crowne Plaza Pensacola Grand. The Montgomery Advertiser said Andrea Wright, assistant manager of the hotel, confirmed the order.
Dale Peterson, manager of the hotel, declined comment when contacted by The Associated Press Thursday. The name of the woman in Price's room was not disclosed.
The Mobile Register, quoting four workers at the Crowne Plaza who did not want to be identified, said the woman wanted the food placed in boxes so she could leave with it.
The hotel contacted Price because of 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.
Price, who was hired in December from Washington State, is married and has two sons on his coaching staff. He has declined to comment on his actions during the trip.
Price's contract, which remains unsigned, has a "for cause" clause which says he can be fired for any behavior "that brings 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."
A group of Tide players went to Price's office to show support Thursday.
"We're in his corner 100 percent," senior receiver Antonio Carter said. "No matter what, we want him to be our coach."
Quarterback Brodie Croyle described Price's mood as "somewhat ashamed, somewhat embarrassed."
"I think it really boosted his spirits a little bit for us to come in there and tell him how we felt about him and tell him how much we respect him," Croyle said.
The players said Price told them what happened and apologized. They wouldn't elaborate on what the coach said.
"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.' "
A dancer, "Destiny" Stahl, 36, told The Birmingham News that Price spent about $200 on her and also bought drinks for and tipped other dancers, but nothing happened beyond dancing.
Kapetanis said Stahl, who works the day shift, was still on duty when Price left and was picked up by her husband. Price, however, returned later that night with some friends.
Witt said he was in contact with the chancellor and university trustees and hoped "to bring closure to this situation as soon as possible."
"This review involves careers and lives and it has been imperative that it be thorough," he said in a statement.
He said he was unable to assemble the trustees before Saturday because some had scheduling conflicts.
This could become yet another black mark on a Tide program which has won six national championships but is now on NCAA probation.
The probation came after Mike DuBose was forced out during a 3-8 season in 2000, having survived an admission to 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.
The NCAA placed the football program on five years' probation early last year, mostly for violations that occurred during DuBose's four-year tenure.
Popular coach Dennis Franchione left the Tide in the lurch last year, bolting for Texas A&M after winning 10 games in his second season. Alabama then turned to Price.
Price had led Washington State to back-to-back 10-win seasons and a Rose Bowl berth last season.