Alabama's Witt has no regrets over Price firing

Updated: August 5, 2003, 3:05 PM ET

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama's president has no regrets about firing football coach Mike Price, and hopes fans will be patient with new coach Mike Shula.

President Robert E. Witt dismissed Price on May 3 after reports the coach had gone to a topless bar in Pensacola, Fla., a month earlier, and that a woman billed about $1,000 worth of room service to his hotel room.

"If I have regrets, they are tied not to the decision but to the unfortunate consequences for his family, for his sons who moved across the country to be with him," Witt told The Associated Press in an interview Monday. "But not the decision."

Witt, the former president at the University of Texas at Arlington, acknowledged that Shula "inherited a very difficult situation" because of NCAA sanctions stemming from rules violations under former coach Mike DuBose.

Witt expects patience from Alabama fans during what could be some lean years.

"I think there is, on one level, an advantage to having football supporters who are avid and devoted to the program. By and large, they tend to be better informed fans.

"By and large, they know he is starting with a scholarship handicap. I think that will cause the majority of them to understand if there are some bumps in the road, and I believe there will be over the next three years."

Witt indicated he would stand by Shula through tough times.

"I believe we have hired an outstanding young football coach and started a coaching dynasty that I'm optimistic will last as long as the coach (Paul) Bryant dynasty," he said.

Witt said making a decision on Price was not difficult.

"It was easy because I believed that it was justified by the facts of the situation. It was easy because I believed the university had to affirm what its values were.

"It was hard because you were dealing with a human being and his family.

"As I said the day we made the announcement, I believe coach Price is a good coach and a good man. But a terrible mistake was made."

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