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Greg Byrne named as Alabama athletic director, UA alumna Erika Barnes interim AD

Arizona+football+head+coach+Rich+Rodriguez+and+athletic+director+Greg+Byrne+celebrate+Arizonas+31-24+win+over+then-No.2+Oregon+at+Autzen+Stadium+in+Eugene%2C+Ore.%2C+on+Thursday.On+Monday+at+his+weekly+press+conference%2C+Rodriguez+talked+about+the+USC+Trojans%2C+being+a+top-10+ranked+team+and+walk-ons.
Tyler Baker

Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez and athletic director Greg Byrne celebrate Arizona’s 31-24 win over then-No.2 Oregon at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., on Thursday.On Monday at his weekly press conference, Rodriguez talked about the USC Trojans, being a top-10 ranked team and walk-ons.

Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne has accepted the same position at the University of Alabama, which was originally reported Sunday evening by Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen via Twitter, but was also confirmed Monday morning by Arizona Athletics.

The interim AD will be UA alumna and member of the 2001 national championship softball team, Erika Barnes who has been a part of UA Athletics since 2005. Barnes is a current member of the Pac-12 council and also handles internal operations through all university sports including the new C.A.T.S. student-athlete services.

The news comes after current Alabama athletic director Bill Battle will reportedly step down after battling cancer. With SEC ties, Byrne should come as no surprise for the job, especially after his rumored courting from the University of Florida last year.

“Greg Byrne has been a strong leader and positive force for Arizona Athletics bringing energy and vision to his role. Greg lifted University of Arizona Athletics to a higher level and I wish him well at the University of Alabama. Our Arizona Athletics teams continue to be positioned for successful competition and academic achievement, and I am excited and confident about the future of Arizona Athletics,” UA president Ann Weaver Hart said in a press release.

Prior to Arizona, Byrne was previously the associate AD at Kentucky from 2002-2005 and Mississippi State from 2006-2008. Then from 2008-2010, Byrne took control of the reigns at MSU before accepting the Arizona job.

Byrne has been credited with several moves including increasing the athletics budget, hiring coaches Rich Rodriguez, Jay Johnson, Adia Barnes and Tabitha Yim, and has also made use of resources available such as Hi Corbett Field.

Coming from the SEC, Byrne wanted to revamp the football program to a similar level as basketball. His most notable hire was Rich Rodriguez who found success in his time at Arizona taking the team to four bowl games in five seasons including a Pac-12 Championship appearance.

Less than a year ago, Byrne proposed a $200 fee to incoming students to help fund a $150 million project to renovate Arizona Stadium, but held off last February.

Alabama already has everything that Byrne needs in terms of football facilities as well as national exposure since the Crimson Tide have won four national championships since 2009 including an appearance in the national championship showdown loss against Clemson last week.

Being associates with head football coach Nick Saban seems to be a challenge in itself, but at the end of the day, Byrne is walking into a scenario where the football program is established as one of the best of all-time and a current juggernaut which would allow him to focus on lifting other sports to a competitive level.

It’s uncertain if the university will remain with Barnes following the spring semester, but someone with a UA background has the ability to create a smooth transition, whether it’s Barnes or whoever is the next person in line.


Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.


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