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The Univ. of Alabama yesterday announced AD Mal Moore has "decided to step down," saying that he will "become a special assistant" to UA President Judy Bonner, according to a front-page piece Tommy Deas of the TUSCALOOSA NEWS. UA officials said they will work “as quickly as possible” to find a replacement for Moore, who has overseen the UA athletics program since '99. Moore has been hospitalized since March 11 "with a pulmonary condition." He said in a statement, "Due to factors related to my health, I am at a point that I can no longer fulfill my duties as athletics director in the true championship manner the position requires" (TUSCALOOSA NEWS, 3/21). In Birmingham, Don Kausler noted Moore built a department with a $36M annual budget into a $101M "empire, despite NCAA probation and coaching sex scandals." He led a "building boom during a recession, twice expanding Bryant-Denny Stadium and transforming the 74-year-old facility into a 101,821-seat palace, one of the jewels of college football." In recent years, a "priority was placed on the Crimson Tide Foundation, which raises money for athletic scholarship endowments." UA in '12 experienced "unprecedented success when it won national championships in football, gymnastics, softball and women's golf." It was the school's "second consecutive national championship in gymnastics and sixth overall." The softball and women's golf titles were the school's "first in sports other than football and gymnastics." Never before had Alabama "won more than one national championship in one year" (AL.com, 3/20).
EBB TIDE: In Birmingham, Kevin Scarbinsky wrote there is no single person who has "ever given any part of himself to the University of Alabama athletics department has given as much" as Moore. He will be remembered "like no one since" former football coach Bear Bryant (AL.com, 3/20). ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel wrote Moore "succeeded because no man or woman, living or dead, cares more about the University of Alabama than he." He knows "coaching and he knows Alabama, and the athletic department has never been more successful." Maisel: "They don't make athletic directors like Mal Moore anymore" (ESPN.com, 3/20). In Tuscaloosa, Cecil Hurt writes Moore accomplished "more than he might have dreamed in his 14-year tenure." He hired Nick Saban as football coach in '07, but more "important was that, after taking over as athletics director in 1999, Moore rebuilt Alabama into a job that Saban would take." Moore "deserves praise for the recent run of football championships." Moore's tenure "wasn't perfect ... but he leaves Alabama a stronger program than the one he inherited" (TUSCALOOSA NEWS, 3/21). SPORTING NEWS' Matt Hayes wrote Moore was the "most beloved Alabama man this side of The Bear." Moore's bronze likeness, standing "tall and smiling wide, should be right next to Saban’s on the Walk of Champions." It "couldn’t be a more fitting farewell" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 3/20).
NEXT MAN UP: Bonner today announced she will recommend hiring Collegiate Licensing Co. Founder & Chair Bill Battle to replace Moore. Battle, a member of the '12 SBJ Champions class who was "personally recommended" by Moore as his successor, played under Bryant at UA and served as Univ. of Tennessee football coach from '70-76. Bonner also said that she would "recommend Moore to be Athletics Director Emeritus" (AL.com, 3/21). In Birmingham, Mike Herndon notes UA officials "plan to move quickly in finding a successor." Names that had been rumored as possibilities included UT AD Dave Hart, UA Deputy AD Shane Lyons, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome and Senior Bowl Exec Dir Phil Savage. Hart was UA Exec AD from '08-11 but yesterday on a Knoxville-based radio station said that he is "focused on his current job at Tennessee." Lyons replaced Hart in '11 in "running daily operations" of the UA athletic department. Savage, who was Browns GM from '05-08, is "currently a radio analyst with the Crimson Tide Sports Network" (AL.com, 3/20). In Baltimore, Aaron Wilson wrote although Newsome would "obviously be a popular choice to succeed Moore ... it's regarded as a major long shot to leave the Ravens at this time." Newsome: "I already have a great job" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 3/20).