- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The outpouring of support following Mal Moore's decision to step down as director of athletics at the University of Alabama on Wednesday told the story of his impact and reach in 50 years spent in and around college sports. Coaches at the university showed their support for the man who hired them and fellow athletic directors from SEC institutions said how important Moore was to their lives.
“I looked at Mal as the 'Rock of Gibraltar'. He was always even keel and very rarely did he get flustered," Texas A&M athletics director Eric Hyman said. "Mal always did what was right for University of Alabama, but he never lost sight that Alabama was in the SEC, therefore he constantly championed the importance of a strong conference."
Said Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long: "Mal Moore has left an indelible mark on the University of Alabama, much like Frank Broyles has done here at Arkansas, and the Crimson Tide Athletic Program has achieved tremendous success under Mal’s leadership. I have enjoyed getting to know him and working with him over the past five years and appreciate the manner in which he welcomed me to the circle of SEC athletic directors."
The outpouring of praise even extended to Alabama’s biggest rival.
"I have always had tremendous admiration and respect for Mal Moore both professionally and personally," Auburn AD Jay Jacobs said in a statement. "... Mal is a terrific leader and an even better man, and I am fortunate to call him a friend."
The loudest sentiments came, of course, from those Moore hired and nurtured at Alabama, many of whom have been responsible for building a legacy that spans five decades and 15 national championships.
“I cannot describe the positive impact that Coach Moore has had on my life and my coaching career,” Alabama women’s tennis coach Jenny Mainz said. “I respect Coach Moore for his successes as the Director of Athletics at the Capstone but more importantly for the character that he has demonstrated in his tenure while leading Alabama these past 10 years. His character, integrity and class are unmatched.”
Said men’s golf coach Jay Seawell: “I’m at the University of Alabama because of Coach Moore. I think Coach Moore is the heartbeat of Crimson Tide athletics. You can look at our athletics department as a whole, not just football, it has probably never been in better shape, from facilities to what has been accomplished on the field of play.”
“Mal’s biggest strength throughout his career as both a coach and an administrator has always been his love of Alabama,” gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson said. “He has attracted great coaches to the Capstone and given them the tools to bring championships back to our campus.”
Moore’s biggest move was luring Nick Saban away from the Miami Dolphins. The Tide had a tumultuous string of football coaches prior to the hire, but Saban saw his vision.
“Coach Moore is somebody that I have a tremendous amount of respect for,” Saban said. “First, for giving us the opportunity to come to the University of Alabama and the great job he did on selling us on this University and what could be done here.”
And in the end, it was Moore’s dedication that resonated with his colleagues at UA.
“He's a guy you can trust and he's been very supportive of our program,” baseball coach Mitch Gaspard said. “He's been able to put his fingerprints all over this athletic department and the University of Alabama, not only through its success, but in how that success has been created.”
"You don't meet many true giants in your life, but Coach Moore is a giant and a legend,” head track and field coach Dan Waters said. “Maybe most importantly he is just such a good friend to everyone. He understood what we are trying to do and he always had your back. You could go to him with any issue or problem and he had usually been through it and could help you with it. A true coach's AD."