Bill Battle was officially introduced as the University of Alabama's new athletic director in a press conference held Friday in Tuscaloosa. Battle admitted he accepted the job with a heavy heart as he replaces his longtime friend Mal Moore who is facing serious health problems.
The decision to hire Battle as Mal Moore's replacement was formally made Friday morning in a unanimous vote from the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees held via teleconference.
UA President Judy Bonner, Chancellor Robert Witt, members of the board of trustees, Coach Saban and his wife and other UA coaches attended the press conference.
Dr. Bonner spoke first, describing the university's athletics department as "second to none." The university president also said she's looking forward to having Mal Moore join her in the president's office, where he will serve as her special assistant.
Moore announced his decision to step down from his role as AD on Wednesday, citing health reasons. Last week he was admitted to Brookwood Hospital then transferred to Duke University's medical center for follow up tests for pulmonary problems.
President Bonner said today she has "full confidence" in Bill Battle as the next athletic director, adding that Battle has a full understand of what it takes to be successful.
Battle played football at the University of Alabama under Paul "Bear" Bryant and is also a successful businessman.
Dr. Bonner described him as "someone I believe is uniquely qualified to build on the foundation of excellence that is a hallmark of the department of athletics."
Battle also spoke during the conference, saying he was honored to be there and his prayers are with Mal Moore.
"He has got a hard long
hard road a head of him but he has got a lot of prayers behind him from all
over the country," Battle said.
Battle said after he met with Dr. Bonner and Dr. Witt, he still questioned if this was what he wanted to do. He said he was happy in retirement living on a farm in Georgia, but after consulting with his wife he agreed to take over the AD's job.
"If I didn't do it it would be a
big mistake. I could payback the university, if I can, what a great debt I owe
the university," Battle said.
The new AD said he built a culture in his old company that Coach Saban would be proud of, and he decided it was time to get outside of his comfort zone. He said he was most impressed by Dr. Bonner telling him that as good as things are for the university, "we have to work harder to keep things going."
Battle said his new job will be a "labor of love" but also admitted it will be a challenge with the athletic department at an all-time high and he has a steep learning curve when it comes to running the athletic department.
"We have to get student athletics ready compete on field and in life and to bring honor to the university," he said.
Coach Saban also spoke at the press conference, welcoming Battle on behalf of all UA coaches and describing him as a "first class individual."
"We are extremely excited to have Bill and his
family here. We as coaches want to make the transition a successful one," Saban said.
Battle has the backing of his predecessor Moore as well. In a statement released by the university, Moore said Battle was "the one person who could sustain all the good things that have happened the past few years while also moving us forward with planned improvements."
Battle is planning a six week listening tour to pick up as much information as he can about running a first-class athletic department.
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