Moore: Talks meant to advise, not criticize

Updated: May 5, 2004, 11:34 AM ET
Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Alabama athletics director Mal Moore denied a magazine's report that he twice chastised former football coach Mike Price over his drinking, but he said he did discuss rumors about bar hopping with the coach.

Moore's comments were made in a sworn statement given last week in Price's $20 million lawsuit over a Sports Illustrated story about the night of heavy drinking that led to Price's firing last year.

Price's lawyer, Steve Heninger, made a copy of Moore's testimony available to The Birmingham News, which reported on the statement in a story Wednesday. Price is now the head coach at Texas-El Paso.

Moore said Sports Illustrated's report that he twice called Price into his office to chastise Price for "buying drinks for students" and "serving as the life of the party in too many bars" were untrue.

Moore testified he never called Price into his office. Instead, Moore said he went to Price's office once when rumors began to surface that Price and some of his coaches were frequently being seen in bars in an area frequented by students in Tuscaloosa.

Moore said he told Price he could go to a nice restaurant and have a drink, but "what you can't do is go bar to bar and then to another bar and then to another bar where people see you there two or three nights a week." Moore said he did not discuss buying drinks for students, as the magazine reported.

Moore said he also visited with Price and his coaching staff two or three weeks later as they prepared to go to Panama City, Fla., for a golf tournament. This was before a golf tournament in Pensacola, Fla., where Price's actions eventually led to his firing.

Moore said the meeting was to explain the importance of the weekend because many important Alabama alumni would attend. Moore testified that during that meeting, he mentioned rumors that coaches were out at bars a lot and he told them: "You just can't do that in this town."

Asked by Heninger whether he gave Price any specific warnings about the consequences of being seen drinking in bars, Moore testified he did not. Moore said in his statement that his meeting with Price was not a threat, but rather "advice."

The university contends Moore's comments to Price constituted a warning over his behavior.

While the magazine reported that Price had "aggressive sex" with two women at a Pensacola hotel after leaving a strip club in the Panhandle city, Moore said Price claimed he couldn't perform sexually unless he took the impotence drug Viagra, and that he had not had any that day.

Price, who publicly admitted to drinking heavily that night at the strip club, said he passed out after returning to the hotel with a woman who spent the night in his room, Moore said in the statement.

Price claims he was libeled and slandered by the article and is seeking damages from Time Inc., which publishes the magazine.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press