When head coach Mike Price announced he was leaving the Washington State football program for Alabama last year, his decision disappointed many of the Cougar players and fans.
Price, who many credit with lifting the WSU team to national-title contention during his 14 years there, seemed to feel the move would be bittersweet.
“I just can’t pass it up,” he explained to the Eastside Journal of Bellevue. “I’m getting up there (in age). I’ve got to do this for my family.”
Family and job security must have been the furthest things from Price’s mind in Florida last month, when he spent hundreds of dollars in a topless bar and let a woman charge $1,000 worth of room service to his hotel bill the next morning.
These incidents were brought to the attention of University of Alabama President Robert Witt, who announced Price’s termination Saturday. He also disclosed the fact that Price had been warned before the trip to Florida to keep his public behavior in check.
This episode is only the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Alabama program, which is currently serving its second year of a five-year probation. This sentencing was a result of several violations that occurred during former head coach Mike DuBose’s career with the team, the most serious of which was a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by his secretary. The university settled that case to the tune of $350,000.
Dennis Franchione was the popular replacement for DuBose, but he left the team last year for Texas A&M. Price could have ushered in a new era for the formerly distinguished Alabama team. He was expected to sign a seven-year, $10 million deal but, unfortunately for Price, the deal also included a clause stating that he could be fired for any behavior that “reflects unfavorably upon the reputation or the high moral or ethical standards of the university.”
Former colleagues have expressed shock at the allegations being brought against Price.
“I’ve never seen any type of inappropriate behavior. I’ve never seen him drunk in public,” WSU information director Rod Commons told ESPN.com. “I don’t know what to think. It’s got me baffled.”
Meanwhile, Price himself is not denying the charges.
“I don’t think that the punishment fits the crime,” he told the media as his wife and two sons looked on. “I strongly feel that I was the man that could have put this behind us. I think President Witt is making a mistake.”