Alabama requests dismissal of Price lawsuit

Updated: August 4, 2003, 7:41 PM ET

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama asked a judge to dismiss former football coach Mike Price's $20 million lawsuit, contending courts have held universities as state agencies immune from suit.

The university also maintains that President Robert Witt is immune because he fired Price in his official capacity.

Price, formerly head football coach at Washington State, filed the lawsuit in Birmingham federal court on July 14, claiming denial of due process, violation of civil rights, breach of contract, wrongful termination and fraud. He contends Alabama's actions are not protected by governmental immunity.

Price is seeking $10 million in punitive damages and $10 million in compensatory damages. He is seeking the same amounts in a lawsuit against Sports Illustrated, which published an article detailing Price's alleged actions at a topless bar and hotel in Pensacola, Fla., that led to his dismissal.

The university's board of trustees also was named in the suit.

Alabama's response called much of Price's complaint "pure fantasy" and said any humiliation he suffered was "self-inflicted."

"Instead of the principled leadership the university expected, Price's tenure as head coach ended as a result of his admittedly reckless and irresponsible behavior and a profound lack of judgment," the university said in its motion.

Alabama also denied Price's claim that he had no notice that Alabama was considering firing him, learning of Witt's decision when the president held a news conference May 3.

Price appealed his firing, but a faculty panel rejected his request for a hearing. He came to Alabama from Washington State after last season but had not signed a seven-year, $10 million contract when Witt fired him.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index