Challenge comes two days before deadline
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Sports Illustrated said Wednesday it will appeal a judge's order that it reveal confidential sources for an article about the night of partying that led to Mike Price's firing as Alabama's football coach.
The challenge came two days before a court-imposed deadline for Sports Illustrated to hand over the material to an attorney for Price, who is seeking $20 million from Time Inc., which publishes the magazine.
A federal judge ruled last week that an Alabama law protecting newspaper, television and radio reporters from being forced to reveal their sources does not extend to reporters for magazines.
In a statement, Sports Illustrated said it disagreed with U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith's "narrow reading of the Alabama shield law."
"The reporter's privilege is vital to all journalistic enterprises including magazines," it said. "This decision jeopardizes Sports Illustrated's, and all magazines', ability to engage in investigative journalism."
The magazine said it was asking Smith to delay the deadline for compliance while the appeal was heard.
Price's attorney, Steve Heninger, said he was not surprised with the challenge but had not seen the appeal.
Price filed suit earlier this year against the magazine and writer Don Yaeger claiming he was libeled and slandered by a story detailing Price's actions the night he visited a strip club in Pensacola, Fla.
University of Alabama President Robert Witt fired Price after the coach admitted drinking heavily and visiting the strip club the night before a golf tournament.
But Price denied the magazine's report that he had sex with two women at a hotel after leaving the bar -- an account published after his dismissal and based in large part on an anonymous source.
Price hasn't been able to get another coaching job since his firing, and he contends the Sports Illustrated piece is partly to blame.
Price also sued the university and Witt, but those complaints were dismissed.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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