TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Many have wondered why Greg Byrne chose to become Alabama’s new athletic director when he was rumored and reportedly in the mix for the same job at other universities.
Byrne reportedly was the front-runner for the athletic director position at Florida.
Following his introductory news conference, Byrne met with local reporters and gave his side of the story.
“First off all, I want to say that Scott Stricklin — the AD at Florida — is one of my very best friends. When I left Mississippi State, he replaced me,” Byrne said. “Sometimes things get out there in the media that gets a life of its own. I was never offered the Florida job. It wasn’t like one of those ‘wink, wink, I wasn’t offered.’ I was not offered the Florida job. Scott was and they have a great athletics director at the University of Florida.
“That’s worked out great for Scott and Florida. It’s worked out great for me, and hopefully, you all will say for the University of Alabama.”
Byrne emphatically denied ever being “offered” the athletic director job at Florida.
Florida ultimately hired Stricklin away from Mississippi State to replace Jeremy Foley.
Byrne will take over as Alabama’s athletic director on March 1, replacing Bill Battle who held the position for four years.
Byrne, 45, currently is vice president for athletics at the University of Arizona.
“I can tell you that — like I talked about when we first came down here — I’ve admired the University of Alabama really even in my younger years when I had never been here,” Byrne said. “We used to watch Keith Jackson call the games and Coach (Frank) Broyles do the color. Even when Coach (Paul “Bear”) Bryant was coaching, I remember some of those games.
“Having grown up in college athletics my entire life, you just looked at Alabama as the pinnacle. I just can’t believe how fortunate we are to be here and be a part of it.”