Moore's legacy as athletic director will be that he hired Saban
By Mark Edwards
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The news came quickly, even for the coaches of Alabama's athletics teams. They received an email at about lunchtime Wednesday to be in the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility for a 1:45 p.m. meeting.
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When they arrived, they were told Moore -- the man whose name was on the building -- had stepped down as Alabama's athletic director, a position he has held since 1999. He will serve as a special assistant to University of Alabama President Judy Bonner.
Moore is stepping down for health reasons. He has been hospitalized since last week at Duke Medical Center for tests and treatment for pulmonary problems. He also was hospitalized in August 2012 for an irregular heartbeat.
"As many of you may know, due to factors related to my health, I am at a point that I can no longer fulfill my duties as athletics director in the true championship manner the position requires," Moore said in a news release. "While I have to focus on my health issue, I look forward to maintaining an ongoing working relationship with this great university as special assistant to Dr. Bonner."
Moore leaves behind a legacy of winning. As an Alabama football player and assistant football coach, he was part of seven national championship teams. Since he became athletic director, Alabama has won three national championships each in football and gymnastics and one each in softball and women's golf.
"He certainly deserves a tremendous amount of credit for any success that we have had because of the way that he sets the table and has served us so well," Alabama football coach Nick Saban said. "I think most things that you would stand here and look around here and see, he's had some hand in making all the athletic facilities what they are, I think first class in so many ways."
Added Sarah Patterson, the Alabama gymnastics coach since 1978: "Mal's passion for winning is at the highest level. He's the one who raised the money. He's the one who had the mission to do all this."
Patterson said Moore's legacy will be tied most closely to the hiring of Saban in January 2007 and the money he raised to improve the Tide's athletics facilities.
"He still went and hired Coach Saban after he had said at a news conference he wasn't coming to Alabama," Patterson said.
Patterson also recalled that Moore raised money to renovate Alabama's men's and women's basketball arenas, the athletic facility, the gymnastics practice facility and Bryant-Denny Stadi
um and build a new training facility.
"He did it during the recession," Patterson said. "Other people were cutting back, and we were adding 10,000 seats to our football stadium."
In a news release, the school said Moore's successor as athletic director will be named as quickly as possible.
Two names are drawing discussion among fans: Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, a former Alabama player in the 1970s under Bear Bryant, and Tennessee athletics director Dave Hart.
Hart was an Alabama basketball player and served as the school's executive director of athletics in 2007-11. He told the Knoxville News-Sentinel, "My focus is purely here."
Newsome, whose team won the Super Bowl in January, has said he would like to return to Alabama at some point, but the Baltimore Sun reported he is a longshot to leave the Ravens for his alma mater.
Moore's association with Alabama goes back to when he enrolled as a student in 1958 to play football for legendary coach Bear Bryant. He also coached at Alabama under Bryant and Gene Stallings.
"Mal Moore is Crimson Tide sports," Bonner said. "During his tenure as athletics director, our student athletes have experienced unprecedented success in every aspect of their careers at UA, on the field of play and in the classroom. His contributions to UA athletics on every level are unsurpassed. And, while he will no longer be in charge of day-to-day operations, I am so pleased that we will continue to be able to rely on his wisdom and expertise going forward."
Moore was was a backup quarterback on the 1961 championship team. When Alabama won championships in 1964 and 1965, he was Bryant's defensive backs coach.
He moved to quarterbacks coach in 1971, helping win a title in 1973. In 1975, he was promoted to offensive coordinator, helping win titles in 1978 and 1979. He served in that position until Bryant's retirement in 1982.
He also coached under Stallings as quarterbacks coach in 1990-93, helping win a national title in 1992. He shifted to administration in 1994, serving as associate athletics director until 1999, when he was named athletics director. He has overseen three national football champions as an administrator.
In 2007, Alabama named its athletics facility for him. In 2011, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. The National Football Foundation awarded him the John L. Toner Award in 2012 as the nation's best athletics director.
"I cannot adequately express what the University means to me," Moore said in a news release. "It has been a part of my life for more than 50 years, and I feel honored to have served the Crimson Tide as a player, coach and administrator. I am so appreciative of the University administration, coaches, staff, student-athletes and fans who have made my tenure as director so very meaningful, memorable and special."