|Friday, June 20
Lawsuit cites seven inaccuracies in story
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Fired Alabama football coach Mike Price sued Time Inc. for $20 million Friday, claiming he was defamed by a Sports Illustrated article about the strip club visit that led to his ouster.
The suit seeks $10 million in compensation -- the value of the seven-year deal Price had with Alabama, which fired him after a night of drunken carousing before an April golf tournament in Pensacola, Fla.
The suit, filed in state court, sought another $10 million in punitive damages from Time, which publishes Sports Illustrated.
Also named in the suit was Don Yaeger, who wrote the article and appeared as a guest on a Birmingham radio show to discuss the piece. Additional people who helped with the story will be added as defendants later, the suit said.
A spokesman at Sports Illustrated, Art Berke, said the magazine had not seen a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment on it.
"But we continue to stand by the story,'' Berke said.
Alabama president Robert Witt fired Price on May 3, about five days before the magazine was released for sale. Price is appealing his dismissal.
Alabama hired Price from Washington State last year after Dennis Franchione left for Texas A&M. Former Alabama quarterback Mike Shula was hired to replace Price, who never coached a regular season game at Alabama.
The lawsuit cited seven parts of the article as being inaccurate, including its report that Price had sex with two women in his hotel room after a visit to Arety's Angels strip club and used the phrase, "It's rolling, baby,'' during what the story called "aggressive sex.''
Price also denied the story's claims that he went to the club immediately upon arriving in Pensacola; that he touched a dancer while in a semiprivate area of the club; and that he fondled a waitress.
The suit also said it was untrue that a woman left Price's hotel room the next morning, before Price went to the golf tournament; that he bought drinks for female students in a Tuscaloosa bar and propositioned them; and that Alabama athletic director Mal Moore chastised him twice for "generally serving as the life of the party in too many bars.''
Price attorney Stephen Heninger said he sent Sports Illustrated a letter on May 22 demanding a retraction, but the magazine refused.
Reports of Price's behavior in Florida first surfaced on Internet bulletin boards.
In media interviews after his firing, Price, 57, denied having sex during the Pensacola trip but also said he got heavily intoxicated after a night on the town.
Price, who is married, said he went to the topless club during a night of bar hopping in Pensacola. Price said he got so drunk a woman had to ride back to the hotel with him in a cab and help him to his room.
Price said he fell asleep and denied any sex was involved. Price said the hotel later made him pay for $1,000 in room service charges a woman placed on his room tab the next morning.