Former University of Alabama athletics director Mal Moore passed away Saturday morning at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. at the age of 73.
Moore, a native of Dozier, Ala., had been hospitalized with pulmonary complications since March 13 and was reportedly in need of a lung transplant.
Moore stepped down from his leadership position at the Capstone just 10 days ago due to health concerns and was named a special assistant to school president Dr. Judy Bonner.
Moore spent nearly 40 years in Tuscaloosa and was a part of 10 national championships as a student-athlete, coach and assistant athletics director before taking over the program in 1999. The fundraiser-savvy Moore, known for his unique southern drawl, was pivotal in the expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium from a 83,818-seat stadium in 1998 to a state-of-the-art, 101,821-seat stadium today.
"I cannot adequately express what the University means to me." Moore said in a released statement announcing his resignation. "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."
Head football coach Nick Saban, who was hired by Moore in 2007 to resurrect a stagnant program riddled in turmoil, expressed his utmost respect and admiration for his friend and former boss during a news conference last week.
"All the support [Moore] has given to our program, he certainly deserves a tremendous amount of credit for any success that we have had." Saban said. "But I'm going to miss him."
In a released statement today, Saban gave full credit to Moore for his decision to leave his NFL head coaching job with the Miami Dolphins after only two seasons to become the head coach for the Crimson Tide.
"Mal was an outstanding leader in terms of all he did for Alabama athletics." Saban said. "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."
Shortly after resigning his position, Moore strongly endorsed the hire of Bill Battle to be his successor, and on March 22, Battle was officially introduced as the new athletics director in Tuscaloosa.
"When it became apparent that I was no longer going to be able to direct the Athletics Department, I felt that Bill Battle was the one person who could sustain all the good things that have happened the past few years while also moving us forward with planned improvements." Moore said of his recommendation of Battle as his replacement.
Battle offered his condolences to Moore's family after learning of his death and feels his predecessor's impact on collegiate sports as a whole will be felt for many years to come.
"The University of Alabama and the world of intercollegiate athletics have lost a legend, and I have lost a dear friend," Battle said via the Alabama Athletics website. "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, who lost his wife of 41 years, Charlotte, in 2010 following a long battle with Alzheimer's, is survived by his daughter, Heather Cook. Both he and his wife were honored in 2011 by Caring Days, an adult day program for Alzheimer's patients in Tuscaloosa, when its new facility was named the Mal and Charlotte Moore Center.
According to a university release, funeral arrangements for Moore have not yet been determined.
Before the start of Alabama's baseball game against Auburn at Plainsman Park this afternoon, a moment of silence was held in Moore's honor and the Crimson Tide players have written his initials "CMM" on the bill of their caps. The softball team is also remembering Moore by wearing black ribbons with his initials on their jerseys during the team's game against Texas A&M in College Station.
Tonight on ABC 33/40 News at 10 p.m., we will have reactions from several of Moore's former players, coaches and colleagues including Gene Stallings, Bill Oliver, Bob Baumhower, Eli Gold and others. You can watch the newscast live online here.
People from all across the country are turning to Twitter with their reactions to the sad news today. You can see some of the tweets about Moore below.