By The Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama President Judy Bonner is recommending businessman Bill Battle to replace his former Crimson Tide football teammate Mal Moore as athletic director.
The Alabama board of trustees’ executive committee scheduled a conference call Friday to vote on the selection.
Moore is stepping down because of health issues and has been hospitalized at Duke University Medical Center for the past week with pulmonary problems.
“Over the past several weeks, we have had multiple conversations about who should follow coach Moore as AD,” Bonner said in a statement released by the university on Thursday. “Based on Mal’s strong endorsement as well as coach Battle’s affiliation with UA as a player, partner and donor, his experience as a coach and his significant business background, I am confident that he is the right person to serve UA in this position. I am looking forward to working with him as we continue to build on the foundation of excellence that is the hallmark of coach Moore’s tenure.”
Battle played with Moore on Bear Bryant’s 1961 national championship team. He spent seven years as Tennessee’s head coach starting in 1970 and his teams went 59-22-2 and won four of five bowl games.
Battle founded the Collegiate Licensing Company in 1981 and served as president and CEO until 2002. He also has served as chairman of the board of Licensing Partners International.
Both companies were acquired by IMG in 2007.
Battle said he “couldn’t find a way to say no” after speaking with Bonner, system Chancellor Robert Witt, trustees chairman Paul Bryant Jr. and football coach Nick Saban.
“It is with extremely mixed emotions that I am involved in this process,” Battle said in the university release. “My strong preference is that my teammate and longtime friend Mal Moore would be announcing another amazing accomplishment. When the university reached out to me, my instinct was to say no.”
Moore has been athletic director since 1999, but announced his resignation from the job on Wednesday. Bonner said she would recommend the board name him athletics director emeritus and appoint him as a special assistant to the president.
Moore said Battle is the right choice as his successor.
“When it became apparent that I was no longer going to be able to direct the athletics department, I felt that Bill 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,” Moore said.
He and Battle have been friends since their playing careers, he said.
“Bill is a man of unimpeachable integrity who understands the heritage and tradition of the University of Alabama,” Moore said.
Named to the Tide’s all-decade team for the 1960s, Battle was inducted into the state of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1981. Now he takes over an athletic program that has won three of the last four national titles in football and also had three other teams win championships in 2011-12.
“The University of Alabama is at an all-time high in athletics, academics and most every other way, and I am deeply honored to be asked to serve in the position of athletics director,” Battle said. “It is an extraordinary challenge and a responsibility that I take very seriously. I will do my dead-level best to continue the successes on and off the playing fields that Alabama fans have enjoyed over the past few years.”