Alabama reportedly wanted Greg Byrne as its athletic director so bad that the timetable for Bill Battle’s departure was accelerated.
In an interesting piece by The Tuscaloosa News’ Cecil Hurt, it’s revealed how aggressively Alabama officials pursued Byrne to become the school’s next athletic director. The process included a meeting with Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban this past weekend.
Here’s part of Hurt’s report:
Battle did not indicate when he originally planned to leave, but the initial target was for him to serve out his four-year contract that expires in June 2017, The News has learned. UA officials then requested an earlier departure date, eventually settling on March.
Byrne — who has been frequently mentioned as a candidate for prominent athletic administration jobs around the country — was identified as the top target, and was in Tuscaloosa over the past weekend in order to meet with UA officials, as well as Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban.
At that point, there became an urgency to secure Byrne, with media reports accelerating the announcement of Battle’s pending retirement to Sunday night, even though Battle was out of town and had not met personally with his senior staff. Those staff members were notified by email.
Battle will transition into a position as special consultant to Bell, UA’s president, upon stepping down from his current position.
It’s no surprise that Alabama officials would work swiftly to secure their desired candidate. Still, it’s fascinating to receive a look behind the curtain at how the hire of Byrne was made. Byrne had served as Arizona’s athletic director since 2010.
Byrne’s hire has been praised nationally. If he succeeds in his role, we’ll look back on the choice to pursue him in the way described above as a smart move by Alabama officials.