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Saban, Alabama working on deal

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — Alabama and Nick Saban are nearing completion of his eight-year contract, the richest in college football, The Tuscaloosa News reported Friday.

"The final details are being worked out," University President Robert Witt told the newspaper at the Southeastern Conference spring meetings in Destin, Fla. "All the key elements have been agreed to."

The Crimson Tide made Saban college football's highest paid coach in luring him away from the Miami Dolphins for an eight-year deal worth more than $30 million in January.

The final stumbling block in landing Saban's signature was endorsements, which make up much of his total compensation package under a multimillion-dollar "talent fee," the newspaper reported. That appears to have been resolved.

"I'm in 100 percent agreement with Dr. Witt," Saban said in a statement to the paper. "I'm pleased and happy with the way the university has handled the negotiations, and I am hopeful we'll have it completed very soon."

The final contracts for Saban and his assistant coaches will be submitted to the University System Board of Trustees' compensation committee for approval. Athletic director Mal Moore said he is optimistic that Saban will have signed "very shortly."

Unsigned contracts have been an issue for Tide football coaches in recent years.

Dennis Franchione left a 10-year contract extension on the table when he left for Texas A&M after the 2002 season. His successor, Mike Price, was fired for off-the-field behavior without coaching a game.

Since he hadn't signed a reported seven-year, $10 million deal, Price was denied severance pay.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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