Alabama AD Bill Battle explains why he's stepping down

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday January 16, 2017

Outgoing athletic director Bill Battle took a leave of absense last summer for treatment for multiple myeloma. It was then that he decided this would be his last year.

Battle joined The Paul Finebaum Show on Monday and said his health is not a problem, but his contract was set to expire this coming March, and it was time for someone else. That someone is Arizona’s Greg Byrne.

“Health was not a part of the reason I stepped down,” Battle said. “That was the plan all along. I told (president Stuart Bell) back before the transplant that I was in great shape, my doctors thought my doctors would be in great shape after, but I told him I intended to complete the fourth year of my contract and he should start preparing for somebody to replace me. Health had nothing to do with it.”

The Arizona Daily Star reports Byrne first talked to Alabama in December. He met school representatives on Friday in Tampa, flew to Tuscaloosa on Saturday and accepted the job that night. This all happened quietly behind the scenes as places like Texas and Tennessee are publicly looking for a new AD.

Battle took over four years ago and replaced Mal Moore, who directed Alabama athletics from 1999-2013. Battle didn’t plan to have the job for a long time. He will remain as a special assistant to the president.

“The job is all day, every day. I knew that going in, and I was committed to doing it the best I could, which doesn’t leave much time for other things,” Battle said. “At 75 years old, I decided I can still do things I like to do, and I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to do that. Not from a disease standpoint, but just from getting old. I’m looking forward to a little more freedom, but hope I can contribute.

Of course, perhaps the biggest news from this move is that Byrne will likely be the one tasked with hiring the coach who replaces Nick Saban, whenever the time comes.

“That wasn’t the thing for me to do,” Battle said. “As we got into this season — what I inherited was not a broken place. Mal had this place in really good shape, with good people, dedicated and loyal people. There wasn’t much fixing to do. We have continued to carry on what Mal wanted to do. I think he’d be pleased looking down. I thought it was a good time for somebody young to come in.

Whoever hires the next football coach, that’s going to be a tremendous job. But the department is good financial shape, good personnel shape, I’m really proud of the five (head) coaches we’ve hired since I’ve been there, plus the ones that are there. The department is in good shape, and Greg is positioned to take us to bigger and better places.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to