Prospective Alabama AD has strong Selma ties

Published 10:18pm Thursday, March 21, 2013

In a Thursday morning release, University of Alabama president Judy Bonner announced plans to recommend Bill Battle as the university’s next athletic director, replacing longstanding AD Mal Moore who stepped down Wednesday.

“Over the past several weeks, we have had multiple conversations about who should follow Coach Moore as AD,” Bonner said in a university release. “Based on Mal’s strong endorsement as well as Coach Battle’s affiliation with UA as a player, partner and donor, his experience as a coach and his significant business background, I am confident that he is the right person to serve UA in this position. I am looking forward to working with him as we continue to build on the foundation of excellence that is the hallmark of Coach Moore’s tenure.”

If Battle is approved as the university’s next AD, it will put someone in charge of one of the country’s most profitable and powerful collegiate sports program who also has tremendously strong ties to Selma.

After a head coaching stint at the University of Tennessee from 1970-1976, where he earned a record of 59-22-2, Battle moved he and his family to work for legendary entrepreneur Larry Striplin and Circle S Industries.

It was Circle S Industries where Battle and Selma attorney Henry Pitts worked together. Battle began what was called Golden Eagle Enterprises, a part of Circle S, and was later joined by Pitts.

“Bill was a very energetic man, he was very likable and had a lot of savvy in pursuing and building the sports marketing division of Circle S Industries,” Pitts said. “We got it started and then my dad died in 1982 and Bill sprung that portion of the business off of Circle S Industries and moved it to Atlanta, where he has been a huge, tremendous success in building the sports marketing business.”

In the move to Atlanta, which was in 1984, Battle renamed the company Collegiate Licensing Company.

In February, Sports and Life Magazine published an article on Battle, where he talked about his move to Selma, a move he said he was skeptical of at the time.

“But he was still hesitant about moving his family to Selma, Alabama.

As he researched the area, he was persuaded when several of his close friends and family members gave advice on how wonderful Selma, Alabama was. As it turned out, ‘Selma was a great place at that time for those six years we were there,’ he admits. ‘Life revolved around the school and the church and the country club.  It was a sheltered environment in some ways.  I really enjoyed our time in Selma.’”

The time in Selma was also tremendously successful for Battle and Circle S Industries.

According to the magazine’s report, during Battle’s six years in Selma “the enterprise grew from two companies, doing $12 million in annual sales, to ten companies doing $60 million in annual sales.”

In the interview, Battle attributed the company’s tremendous growth to former Selma staple.

“And the growth was fueled by Larry’s (Striplin’s) leadership and salesmanship,” Battle said. “It was a great business educational experience for me.”

Now, Battle is poised to take over the University of Alabama’s athletics department that has been reshaped and rebuilt by Moore.

“He certainly has some big shoes to fill but he certainly has the ability to do it. He has the leadership ability and the ability to run a program like Alabama,” Pitts said. “Bill has all of the tools to be an excellent administrator to run a program such as Alabama’s athletic department. He has friends and connections all over the United States and I can’t think of a better person to take over the reins at Alabama.”

Alabama’s Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet via conference call Friday morning to vote on Bonner’s recommendation.

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