- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama moved swiftly in replacing former athletic director Mal Moore, who stepped down Wednesday afternoon amid health concerns. University president Judy Bonner released a statement Thursday morning saying she will recommend Alabama alumnus and former Tennessee football coach Bill Battle as the school's next athletic director.
"Over the past several weeks, we have had multiple conversations about who should follow Coach Moore as AD," Bonner said in a statement.
Moore, 73, had been in the hospital with a pulmonary ailment since March 10.
"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," Bonner said. "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."
The University of Alabama board of trustees will meet Friday at 10 a.m. ET to consider hiring Battle.
Battle was teammates with Moore under legendary Crimson Tide coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. He was a three-year starter from 1960-62 and was named a member of the University of Alabama All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1981.
Battle left Alabama in 1963 to become a graduate assistant coach at Oklahoma under another Hall of Fame coach in Bud Wilkinson and went on to serve as an assistant at the United States Military Academy, where he served a two-year military tour. Battle would make a name for himself in the coaching ranks at the University of Tennessee, where he was an assistant coach for four seasons before being named the Volunteers' head coach in 1970. He won 59 games in seven seasons in Knoxville.
"When it became apparent that I was no longer going to be able to direct the athletics department," Moore said in a statement, "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."
Battle, for his part, said he willing accept the job, albeit with "mixed emotions." As a member of the boards of the University of Alabama A-Club Educational & Charitable Foundation and the Crimson Tide Foundation, he has strong ties to the university already in place.
"My strong preference is that my teammate and longtime friend Mal Moore would be announcing another amazing accomplishment," Battle said in a statement. "When the university reached out to me, my instinct was to say no. However, after speaking with Dr. Bonner, Dr. [Robert] Witt, Coach Saban, Mal and Paul Bryant and seeing what I've seen at the university, I couldn't find a way to say no.
"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. 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. I look forward to working with the great coaches, student-athletes and administrative staff at the university to continue the momentum they have created."
Moore said he was attracted to Battle's background as an athlete, coach and CEO.
Battle was the founder of Collegiate Licensing Company and served as the company's CEO until 2002. He also served as chairman of the board of Licensing Partners International, which, along with CLC, was acquired by International Management Group in 2007. Prior to starting CLC, Battle held a number of positions at Circle S Industries in Selma, Ala., where he helped extend the company from earning $12 million in annual sales to 10 companies earning a total of $60 million.