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News
Likins rules out Neuheisel, Price


Photo
Rick Neuheisel
By Brett Fera
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 2, 2003

President Peter Likins has scratched two names off the list of potential replacements for fired head football coach John Mackovic, confirming that both Rick Neuheisel and Mike Price are out of the running for the vacant position.

Likins showed concern yesterday at the idea that Neuheisel the former Washington head coach who was fired after gambling on the NCAA men's basketball tournament, a strict NCAA rules violation was rumored to be a candidate alongside Price.

"The University of Arizona will not hire Rick Neuheisel as our head coach, for the same reasons as Mike Price," Likins said.

Neuheisel and Price's names were both circulated as potential replacements for Mackovic, even before Mackovic was fired on Sunday.

Likins emphasized his opposition to Price's potential candidacy earlier this week, after rumors circulated Saturday before the Wildcats 13-10 overtime loss to Texas Christian that Mackovic was already fired as head coach, and that Price was his likely replacement.

Mackovic was ultimately let go less than 24 hours later, with offensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz being tagged as interim head coach.

Likins said he makes no judgment on Price's character, but that he thinks the veteran Pacific-10 conference coach is not the right choice for the Tucson opening.

"Because of the embarrassment that Mike Price has experienced in his Alabama situation, he has a cloud over his head," said Likins of the former Washington State and Alabama coach. "I do not know (Price) and I don't know if he deserves that or not."

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It is my judgment that the UA cannot lend itself to the cloud of scandal that is hovering over his head

- Peter Likins

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"It is my judgment that the UA cannot subject itself to the cloud of scandal that is, right now, hovering over his head," Likins said.

Price was fired from his post at Alabama following a strip club escapade while at a golf tournament in Florida.

Athletic Director Jim Livengood hired Price as head football coach at Washington State prior to the 1989 season, while Livengood was athletic director there.

Livengood said he thinks no candidate should be ruled out without proper consideration, but that Likins has a right, as president, to set any limits he chooses.

"My goal, regardless of what people think in terms of rumors, is to have the best search we can have," Livengood said. "I want a lot of candidates compared with each other. When we rule out candidates it makes it hard to make those comparisons. But, the president is the president is the president, and it is absolutely his prerogative.

Livengood, along with Kathleen "Rocky" LaRose, the UA's senior associate athletic director for sports programs and operations, formed a head football coach search committee, to be headed by LaRose.

Included in the 11-member team are local businessmen Jim Click and Bill Estes, athletics department officials, faculty members and university representatives.

"The search is absolutely wide open," Livengood said. "Anyone and everyone who fits in that criteria will be looked at."

Livengood said it is important to remember that the group is a search committee not a selection committee with a primary goal of choosing the best candidate who upholds the standards set forth by the University and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

"The bottom line is that the selection needs to be made by me with the help of (Likins), because ultimately I'm the one that is held accountable," Livengood said.

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