Esteemed administrator will transition to a role as Special Assistant to the President
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Bill Battle, Director of Athletics at The University of Alabama, announced Sunday evening that he is going to retire from his post to assume a new role as Special Assistant to the President.
Battle, currently in his fourth year as Director of Athletics, had led the Crimson Tide athletics department since March of 2013, when he succeeded the late Mal Moore. University of Alabama President Stuart R. Bell said that Battle will continue to lead the department until a successor transitions into the Director of Athletics role.
“Bill has done a tremendous job as Director of Athletics, and has accomplished so much during his career,” said Bell. “His business expertise, coupled with his coaching experience and his strong understanding of the role an athletic department has in the daily fabric of a university, has allowed us to achieve the great successes we have enjoyed during his tenure. We are blessed to have the continued benefit of his counsel.”
“It’s been a distinct privilege and honor serving as Director of Athletics these last four years,” said Battle. “When I took over this role my wife, Mary, and I made a commitment to serving four years and I am pleased to have been able to do just that. There are so many people in the department who do a great job every day to make the Crimson Tide successful. I am deeply grateful to each and every one of them for their extraordinary efforts and loyalty to the University. Being able to lead this department has been an honor and a privilege for which I am most grateful.”
“It is my hope that during my tenure here, we have been able to make a difference in young people’s lives and at the same time move forward on many different fronts. I look forward to continuing to serve the university by working closely with the new AD to assist in a smooth transition. At the end of that period I look forward to working with President Bell in the role of special advisor assistant to advance his strategic initiatives for The University of Alabama. I look forward to remaining active with the Crimson Tide Foundation and supporting Crimson Tide athletics.”
“I want everyone to know that my health was not a factor in this decision as, at this time, I am in full remission and I feel great. When I came here in 2013, I committed to Dr. Witt that I would be here for four years, or the equivalent of another college degree. Last summer, before my medical procedure, I told Dr. Bell that I was expecting, as were my doctors, to come through that procedure very well, and that I intended to serve out the last year of my contract.”
“I told him that he should be looking for a replacement. That process has been going on over the last few months. As you know, in this business, high-level changes are hard to map out and announce very far in advance. Meanwhile, I would like to continue to help the University, but I’d also like to be able to spend more time at our farm in Georgia and in Jackson Hole, the sort of things a full-time AD job doesn’t really permit.”
As Director of Athletics, Battle has placed increased focus on his primary mission for Alabama Athletics: to recruit and develop student-athletes to compete at the highest levels in intercollegiate athletics, to educate and prepare student-athletes to compete at the highest levels in life after graduation, and to accomplish both with honor and integrity. In four years at the helm, Battle has not only maintained the unprecedented level of competitive and academic success that was occurring when he took the post, but has overseen a department that expanded upon that success.
During Battle’s tenure, Alabama has produced three NCAA team national championships (men’s golf in 2013 and 2014; football in 2015); 10 SEC team championships in five different sports (three in football, two in gymnastics, two in men’s golf, and one in women’s golf, softball and women’s tennis); 15 NCAA individual champions (seven in 2013-14, six in 2014-15,and two in 2015-16); 43 Academic All-Americans (eight in 2013, 17 in 2014, eight in 2015, 9 in 2016, and one so far in the 2016-17 academic year – leading the nation in that category in both 2014 and 2015), including six Academic All-Americans of the Year (one in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and a national-leading three in 2016); and 16 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship awardees (5 in 2013, a national-leading 7 in 2014, two in 2015, and 3 in 2016).
Vision Led to Fundraising Success & Facility Improvements
Battle’s vision has impacted the Alabama Athletics Department in numerous ways, particularly in revitalized fundraising efforts that directly enhance the daily experience of every Crimson Tide student-athlete. He revitalized the Bryant Society, Alabama’s highest level of donors that exceed a million dollars, and has overseen that group to grow from nine members in 2013 to twenty six in 2016, with more expected in 2017. He has also overseen growth in endowed scholarships, and his goal continues to get entire teams’ scholarships endowed. Battle spearheaded the redevelopment of Alabama’s historic baseball facility, Sewell-Thomas Stadium, transforming an aging facility into one of the nation’s most dynamic venues when the stadium opened in February 2016. He also has led the drive for numerous other facility and departmental improvements, including a new rowing facility, a new dining hall for all student athletes, plans for a renovated aquatics facility, and several other projects in various stages of development. He has increased outreach efforts to keep students, fans, faculty, staff and stakeholders abreast of all the good things he sees happening in Alabama Athletics.
Enhancing a Culture of Excellence
Thus far during the 2016-17 academic year, Alabama has won one SEC team title (football), produced four All-Americans and one Academic All-America honoree. During the 2015-16 academic year, Alabama won two SEC titles (football and women’s golf) while seven of 17 teams finished their respective seasons ranked among the top 25 nationally, including four national top-10 finishes and one national title (football). Individually in 2015-16, six student-athletes earned three individual NCAA championships: Quanesha Burks (women’s indoor track – long jump), Katie Bailey (gymnastics – vault) and the men’s swimming 200-yard medley relay team (Connor Oslin, Pavel Romanov, Luke Kaliszak and Kristian Gkolomeev).
A Premium on Academic Achievement
Alabama’s success in graduating student-athletes reflects a culture that has placed a premium on academic excellence. That emphasis has resulted in an SEC-best 25 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship awardees from 2011-16; a national-best (tied with Stanford 66 Academic All-Americans since 2010; an SEC-leading 114 Academic All-Americans since 2000 (third nationally).
In 2015-16, Alabama became the first school to have three Academic All-Americans of the Year in the same academic year. In an unprecedented feat, Alabama swept the 2015-16 Academic All-American of the Year titles for the at-large team selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Over the last six years, Alabama has had nine student-athletes earn Academic All-American of the Year honors, the most by any school in the nation over that span, and Crimson Tide student-athletes have been named Academic All-American of the Year for all sports in three of the last four years.
Crimson Tide student-athletes graduate at a rate of 72 percent with a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 92 in 2016, which ranked second in the SEC and was up one point from the previous year. The GSR spans the period covering students who attended the University during 2005-08. In addition to standing in the top two in the SEC with its overall GSR, the Crimson Tide was first or tied for first in nine different sports (football, men’s basketball, gymnastics, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, softball and men’s swimming & diving. Men’s track & field and women’s soccer were second in the SEC with scores of 96 and 94, respectively.
In 2015-16, Alabama led the SEC in total teams achieving perfect GSR scores of 100 with eight (men’s basketball, gymnastics, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, softball and men’s swimming & diving). Fourteen Alabama programs recorded a GSR score of 90 or better and all 17 posted marks of 83 or above (the average GSR for student-athletes is 82 for all of NCAA Division I).
In 2016, the Alabama football team led the SEC and ranked second nationally in graduates on its roster for postseason play with 22. Only Temple (29) had more. Alabama’s total tied with Nebraska in second. From 2013-15, Alabama football led the nation three consecutive years in graduates on its roster for postseason play. With 29 in 2015, the Tide set a national record for the most graduates ever playing on a single team in postseason action.
The Crimson Tide had the highest Graduation Success Rate (86) among the four teams selected for the 2016 College Football Playoff. Alabama had the second-highest GSR (80) of the four teams selected for the 2017 College Football Playoff. The 2016 season marked the eighth consecutive year that the Crimson Tide football team suited up more than 20 graduates for a bowl game as 22 Crimson Tide players already had earned diplomas prior to the postseason. Three Tide football players graduated with master’s degrees in the 2016 fall semester.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.