Mal Moore, who played and coached under Bear Bryant, hired Nick Saban and presided over a heyday in athletics at his alma mater, has passed away.
The university said the 73-year-old Moore died on Saturday at Duke University Medical Center. Moore had been in the Durham, N.C., hospital since March 13 with pulmonary problems.
The folksy, silver-haired Moore was part of 10 football national championship teams as a player, coach or administrator in a career intertwined with three of the Crimson Tide’s most revered coaches – his old bosses Bryant and Gene Stallings and Saban, who has won three of the last four national titles.
He played for Bryant’s 1961 national championship team, and Bill Battle – another member of that team – was hired to replace him two days after Moore stepped down on March 20. He was to become a special advisor to Alabama President Judy Bonner.
“The University of Alabama and the world of intercollegiate athletics have lost a legend, and I have lost a dear friend,” Battle said in a statement. “My heart goes out to his family and close friends in this time of sadness. After a time of grieving, we can begin to celebrate Mal’s life, as his legacy will last for generations.”
Moore oversaw an athletic department since 1999 that made more than $240 million in facilities improvements – including multiple expansions of Bryant-Denny Stadium – and won national championships in football, gymnastics, softball and women’s golf in 2011-12.
He hired Saban in January 2007 after flying to south Florida hoping to lure him from the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
“Mal was truly a special person in every sense of the word,” the coach said. “We can talk about all the championships Mal has been involved with, but I think what will be remembered most was the man he was. He always put the best interests of others ahead of his own, he carried himself as a first-class gentleman, and he helped bring out the best in those around him.
“Mal was an outstanding leader in terms of all he did for Alabama athletics. Most importantly, he was a great friend to me and my family. Mal was the number one reason we decided to make the move to Tuscaloosa.”
The football building and his own memorabilia-covered office were housed in the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility, named after him in 2007.