It’s not often that a stir begins in athletics administration on a Sunday evening. This Sunday, though, Arizona columnist Greg Hansen reported that Greg Byrne, director of athletics at Arizona, would be announced for the same position at Alabama as early as Monday.
That sent someone at The University of Alabama scurrying to put out a late Sunday night release that Bill Battle “announced Sunday evening” that he will retire and “assume a new role as special assistant to the president.”
Battle is in his fourth year as Alabama’s director of athletics. He succeeded his former Crimson Tide teammate Mal Moore in March, 2013, after Moore’s death.
Alabama’s release included Stuart R. Bell, president of The University, saying that Battle would continue to lead the department until a successor transitions into the AD role.
Bell praised Battle for “a tremendous job,” citing Battle’s extraordinary background in business as founder of Collegiate Licensing Company and in athletics as a player at Alabama under legendary Coach Paul Bryant, and then a coaching career that included being head coach at Tennessee.
Battle called his time in the position “a distinct privilege and honor.” He noted that he had committed to serve four years and expected to do that.
Battle recently had treatment for cancer, but said his health is not an issue, that he is in remission.
He also said that prior to his medical procedure last summer that he told Dr. Bell “that he should be looking for a replacement. That process has been going on over the last few months.”