Tigers at financial limit for paying Saban

Updated: December 17, 2004, 11:44 PM ET
Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU will do what it can to keep football coach Nick Saban from leaving for the Miami Dolphins, but the school already is at the limit in financial compensation, a top LSU official says.

"There's always an opportunity to at least explore alternatives," LSU president William Jenkins said Thursday. "We would see what we can do to continue the forward progress and momentum of our football program. But we're not talking about monetary things."

Saban is in the first year of a seven-year contract that pays him $2.3 million this season, escalating to $3 million by 2010.

Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga and team President Eddie Jones flew to Baton Rouge on Tuesday to meet with Saban about Miami's head coaching job. Statements from the coach and the Dolphins termed the meeting as a "preliminary conversation."

Saban, 53, has been LSU's coach since leaving Michigan State in November 1999. He is 48-15 in five seasons at LSU and won Southeastern Conference championships in 2001 and 2003 and the 2003 BCS national championship.

He was an assistant coach with the Houston Oilers in 1988-89 and with the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94.

Jenkins said LSU will give Saban all the time he needs -- within reason -- to make a decision.

"We're not talking about months now," Jenkins said. "We need a decision fairly expeditiously. But on the other hand, it's only fair to grant coach Saban time to fully evaluate the situation."

New LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe, who was appointed Thursday, spent part of his day meeting with Saban and LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman. Jenkins said if Saban leaves, he expects O'Keefe would be involved with the search for his replacement.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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