TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama Board of Trustees unanimously approved the hiring of Bill Battle as the new athletic director, setting out a four-year, $620,000 contract during a Friday morning teleconference. He replaces Mal Moore, who held the same position since 1999 and stepped down on Tuesday amid health concerns.
Battle, who was introduced to the media shortly after the hiring became official, said he didn't want the job at first. When the 71-year-old former Crimson Tide football player and Tennessee Volunteers head coach got the call offering him the post as the Alabama's next athletic director, he didn't know what to think.
"Do I really want to do this?" was his first thought.
But after nearly two weeks of deliberation, Battle accepted the job, taking over for his friend and former teammate under Hall of Fame coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant.
"If I didn't do this, I'd regret it the rest of my life," Battle decided in the end.
Which is not to say he enters the position oblivious to its challenges. He called it "an extraordinary responsibility" and pointed out just how steep the learning curve is after so long away from the game.
Alabama has won eight national championships since 2002 and three BCS titles in the last four seasons. Maintaining that level of success will be no easy feat for Battle.
"Coming into this place at this time when it's at an all-time high is a very difficult thing to do," Battle said.
Battle was a three-year starter at Alabama from 1960-62 and was named a member of the school's All-Decade Team, earning induction into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1981. He 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 become an assistant at the United States Military Academy, where he served a two-year military tour.
He 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.
Moore and others said they were 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.