New AD Battle plans on taking 'listening tour' to better understand the athletic departmentBy Marquavius Burnett | 03/22/2013 1:36pm
When Bill Battle got the call about possibly filling the athletic director position at The University of Alabama, his initial thoughts were “man this is a great honor, but do I really want to do this?”
Battle was “cutting up trees with a chainsaw that had fallen from the recent tornado” when he was informed of then athletic director Mal Moore’s health decline and asked if he wanted to be considered for the position.
He ultimately decided he wanted to take the position of director of athletics and was introduced in front of a family and friends, the UA Board of Trustees, coaches and media members on Friday morning.
He called it an opportunity to repay the University for all it had done for him and not accepting the job would have been a decision he would have regretted.
Battle is charged with replacing Moore, who has held the position since November 1999. But Battle doesn’t see his new job as replacing the legacy Moore lives behind. He only wants to continue to build on the success.
“You don’t. You try to keep going the way you’re going,” Battle said of replacing Moore. “But I think you either get better or you get worse. As you strive for excellence in athletics – as you do preparing young people for life – that never changes. There are always challenges. There’s never a perfect way to do it. There are always better ways to do it.”
Battle said he planned to go on a “six week listening tour” to talk to everyone he could in hopes of understanding just how the athletic department runs. He wants to be a “sponge and soak up everything” he can with the intentions of not ruffling any feathers along the way.
“What I know is that the leadership at this university – the mission at the top is clear,” Battle said. “There are no ifs about the direction. I know where the leadership of the university wants the athletics department to go.”
Battle is on board with the direction the University is trending and like most, he understands that the direction starts with the success of the football program and its head coach Nick Saban. Saban spoke on behalf of the coaches and athletic department during Battle introductory press conference
“On behalf of all of our coaches here at the University of Alabama, we’re very pleased and excited to have Bill and his family to join our team,” Saban said. “I’d like to welcome you to Tuscaloosa, but also welcome you back home to the University of Alabama and the Crimson Tide.”
Saban invited Battle to practice, but joked that it was against NCAA rules for Battle to coach. The two have built a relationship during the process of replacing Moore and spent time together discussing the athletic department.
“The relationship of anybody at the University of Alabama and coach Saban is important because coach Saban is important,” Battle said. “What he’s done in football, not many people have done in college sports. He’s gotten ahead of the field. So we want to be supportive as we can be to his needs and his team’s needs, give him the best chance that he has to give his players the best chance to compete, as we want to do with all our coaches.”
The details of Battle’s deal with the University are four years with a $620,000 annual salary. When asked if he was open to an extension, the 71-year-old quickly fired back.
“Ask the university if they're open to an extension,” he said.