Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Greg Byrne, Vice President for Athletics at the University of Arizona, was formally introduced as The University of Alabama's Director of Athletics by UA President Dr. Stuart Bell at a press conference in the Mal M. Moore Athletics Building Thursday afternoon. Byrne succeeds Bill Battle, who announced his plans to step down after nearly four years as Director of Athletics.
Byrne officially began his tenure as Director of Athletics on March 1, the same day that Battle transitioned to a new role as Special Assistant to the President.
Byrne's role at Alabama will mark his third venture as lead of a major collegiate athletics program. He has been Vice President for Athletics at the University of Arizona since March of 2010, and was Director of Athletics at Mississippi State University from 2008-10. Byrne has more than 20 years of experience as an athletics administrator in a career hallmarked by consistent success in fundraising, competitive success, and a strong emphasis in academic excellence.
Throughout an administrative career that has already spanned two decades, Byrne has been consistently more impactful and successful with each step up the administrative ladder. As a fundraiser, he has been directly involved in raising over $200 million in gifts during his career. As a leader of competitive athletics programs, he has fostered major improvements across the spectrum of sports at both programs he has led. As a proponent of developing student-athletes into productive people after college, Byrne has led programs that have attained academic success at a level not attained prior to his tenure.
Byrne has deep experience working in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), having spent three years (2002-05) at the University of Kentucky as Associate Athletics Director for Development and Fundraising before a four-year stint at Mississippi State (2006-10). From 2006-08, Byrne served as Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs at Mississippi State before becoming MSU's Director of Athletics, a role he filled from 2008-10 before taking the job at Arizona.
Under Byrne's leadership, Arizona Athletics underwent more than $100 million in construction and renovation of athletics facilities. That work was highlighted by the $72 million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, the addition of two video boards in Arizona Stadium, and a new scoreboard in the McKale Center. Additionally, Byrne oversaw a $30 million renovation of the McKale Center, a project that included upgraded seating, handrails, enhanced lighting and a new playing floor.
From 2008-10, Byrne was Director of Athletics at Mississippi State University, where he was the youngest athletic director in the Southeastern Conference and the youngest to lead an athletic program at the NCAA Division I-A level. As Director of Athletics, Byrne oversaw the hiring of head football coach Dan Mullen and former head baseball coach and current Director of Athletics John Cohen. As the son of veteran athletics administrator Bill Byrne, one of the nation's most prominent college sports administrators with over 30 years of experience as an Athletics Director, Greg Byrne has been around the business of running successful athletic programs for most of his life.
A native of Pocatello, Idaho, Byrne earned his bachelor's degree in 1994 and his master's degree from Mississippi State in 2009. Byrne is married to the former Regina Misa of Junction City, Ore., and the couple has two sons, Nick and Davis.
On what appealed to him about the opportunity at Alabama:
"I've admired the University of Alabama, really even in younger years before I'd even been here, when we'd watch Keith Jackson call the game, Coach Broyles do the color and even when Coach Bryant was coaching. I remember some of those games. The historical ride Alabama football has been on is incredible and that engages people. Look at the growth in the university the last 10 years.
"I remember coming down here 15 years ago and seeing what it looked like then, which was great, and what it looks like now is even better. You can't help but say that athletics, and football in particular, has been the engine that is driving that train in many aspects. It's incredible to have a chance to be a part of that.
"The fact that people here at Alabama support this university, support this athletics program, support the football program in the manner that they do, you don't take that for granted and you thank people for that. You tell them how much you appreciate the efforts they make."
On the support of athletics at Alabama
"Here at the University of Alabama it's such an important part of the culture and the tradition. The university has embraced it and I commend the leaders the past, the current leaders and the leaders in the future and the university community and fans. The reality is that if everybody is pulling that rope in the same direction, you can have a lot of great things happen. The force of the support the University of Alabama brings collectively is very special and very unique and that's absolutely one of the strengths."
On the decisive factor in taking the job:
"It's Alabama. As a guy that's been around intercollegiate athletics my entire life, it's absolutely the pinnacle. To have the opportunity to be here, I can't thank Dr. Bell and the trustees enough."
On his priorities and vision for the future:
"Facilities are critical, reinvesting in your success and continuing that vision for the future. You just can't hit the pause button. We're really fortunate here that the infrastructure, for the most part, is really, really good. But that doesn't mean that you stop. The importance of recruiting, the importance of the student-athlete experience – academically, athletically and socially – all those are critical and facilities play a big part in that."
Alabama Head Coaches Comments About Greg Byrne
"Greg Byrne is one of the brightest administrators in college athletics today and we are very excited that he will be our next Director of Athletics. He has done a tremendous job in that role previously at both Mississippi State and Arizona. In our meetings with Greg we were very impressed with his plan and vision for Alabama athletics. We encourage the entire Crimson Tide family to fully support our new athletics director as we work to make all aspects of our athletics department even stronger. We are looking forward to working with Greg and would like to welcome the Byrne family to Tuscaloosa."
– Nick Saban, head football coach
"I am excited about Greg Byrne, his wife Regina and their two boys joining our team at The University of Alabama. I think it's going to be great. Greg is a young guy with lots of experience at other SEC schools. Coming from Arizona, specific to what we're doing here at Alabama, they have had a tremendous amount of success with their basketball program. That means a lot. I'm excited about his wealth of experience. He's very highly regarded amongst other ADs across the country. I've heard he's a great guy and a visionary, so I'm excited about him joining us and leading our athletic department. From what I've heard, it's going to be another situation where we are all going to roll up our sleeves and be all in for The University of Alabama athletic department."
– Avery Johnson, head men's basketball coach
"I'd like to welcome Greg, Regina and their boys to The University of Alabama. Everything I have heard about Greg has been extremely positive, and his credentials and proven track record as a leader in collegiate athletics certainly speaks for itself. I look forward to getting to know him and working with him, and I'm excited to see what he has in store for the future of the Crimson Tide."
– Kristy Curry, head women's basketball coach
"I am excited to learn and grow from one of the most respected athletic directors in the country in Mr. Byrne. I am a firm believer that change is a healthy thing and I'm looking forward to seeing our athletic department continue to lead and succeed under Greg's leadership."
– Patrick Murphy, head softball coach
"Change is always exciting, it's all in how you look at it. I have spoken to Greg and he seems to be compassionate, approachable and on fire – and really humbled – to be a part of The University of Alabama as our Director of Athletics. I know that he is a great choice for our university and I look forward to getting to know him, his wife and family and to welcome them to the Alabama family."
– Dana Duckworth, head gymnastics coach
"I've heard nothing but good things when it comes to Greg Byrne. He's obviously a very talented administrator. My colleagues in the swimming and diving community who have worked with him have nothing but positive things to say about him. For our program in particular, he is coming to us at a pivotal time for us as we are in the planning stages of a facilities upgrade for swimming and diving. Generally speaking, I think Greg Byrne will be a good fit for as far as the vision, mission and philosophy for the department and, just like Coach Battle, his record speaks for itself."
– Dennis Pursley, head swimming & diving coach
"I am excited about Mr. Byrne. His reputation precedes him and I look forward to working with him to continue to make Alabama golf a championship program."
– Jay Seawell, head men's golf coach
"Since I began at the Capstone I've seen our university make key leadership decisions. Having Coach Battle come aboard four years ago was one of several and, to now have Greg Byrne fill his shoes, is another. I'm confident that we have made a quality choice and I am anxious to work with our new leader to keep the Tide rising and rolling. It's an exciting time for our athletic programs and Greg's addition further intensifies the excitement. He has an impeccable background with proven results. He knows what it means to lead and compete in the SEC and on the national scene. He has a passion for succeeding at the highest level. Altogether it's a great fit for us. I welcome him and Regina to our family and a campus where legends are made."
– George Husack, head men's tennis coach
"I'm excited about the chance to work with Greg. I've heard nothing but fantastic things about him and his resume' speaks for itself. I'm looking forward to a promising future with Greg Byrne at the helm of the Capstone."
– Jenny Mainz, head women's tennis coach
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work with Greg Byrne. Based on his credentials, he looks to be a great person to lead our athletic department moving forward."
– Larry Davis, head rowing coach
"I've heard a lot of great things about Greg. I think it's an exciting time as we move forward. I think he's the best in the business and he has definitely done some great things in some different places. I'm confident that he'll do a fantastic job here at Alabama."
– Greg Goff, head baseball coach
"I'm looking forward to working with Greg as we continue to move our program to new heights. I've heard great things about him from colleagues around the country. He and his family have meant a lot to the universities they've been associated with. I'm excited to welcome them to Alabama."
– Mic Potter, head women's golf coach
"I am excited about the opportunity to work with Greg. I have only heard positive things about him and the places he has been, and his athletic director's pedigree speaks for itself. I look forward to him carrying on the tradition that Mal and Bill have created."
– Ed Allen, head volleyball coach
"We're all excited to hear his perspective on how we operate as not only as a track & field/cross country program but as an athletic department as a whole. He will bring new leadership and a fresh outlook that can only continue to move us forward."
– Dan Waters, head track & field/cross country coach
"I know the University spent a great deal of time and energy searching for the best Athletic Director in the country. I am confident they found it in Greg Byrne. Everything I've read and heard about Mr. Byrne reassures me that Alabama athletics will continue to thrive under his leadership."
– Wes Hart, head soccer coach