Former University of Alabama athletic director Mal Moore died on Saturday at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., the school announced. He was 73.
Moore was a part of Alabama athletics for five decades dating to his time as a backup quarterback under coach Paul "Bear" Bryant in the 1960s. He was a part of 10 national championships as a player, coach and administrator at UA.
Moore stepped down as the school's athletic director on March 20, citing poor health. He was struggling with a lung condition that required a lung transplant, according to new UA athletic director Bill Battle, who took the job just two days after Moore announced his resignation.
"The University of Alabama and the world of intercollegiate athletics have lost a legend, and I have lost a dear friend," Battle said in a statement. "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."
A native of the small town of Dozier, Ala., Moore earned his undergraduate and master's degree from Alabama. In 2011, he was elected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of a career that spanned some six decades. He called the selection an "unbelievable honor" at the time.
Moore coached running backs at Notre Dame for five seasons before becoming an assistant with the St. Louis and Phoenix Cardinals of the NFL. Like the coach he'd hire at Alabama, Nick Saban, he would look back on his time in the professional game as being out of place. He longed for the collegial atmosphere of Alabama and the personal relationships he was able to foster while there.
"I used to tell people nobody in St. Louis or Phoenix, nobody would ever come by to see us," he told ESPN's TideNation in late December. "You know why? Because nobody gives a damn. Here, brother, they love their university. It's important."
Moore was largely responsible for resurrecting the sleeping giant that was Alabama. When he signed on as director of athletics, the Crimson Tide football team hadn't won a championship in seven years. It took a few coaching searches -- Mike Dubose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Price and Mike Shula never panned out -- until he hired Saban.
"Mal has positively impacted athletics at Alabama unlike anyone ever has or probably ever will," Saban said in a statement.
The two have built a dynasty in the years since Moore introduced Saban at a news conference when he said the new coach "signified a new era of Crimson Tide football."
"[He's] somebody that I have a tremendous amount of respect for," Saban said the day Moore stepped down as athletic director, "first of all for giving us the opportunity to come here to the University of Alabama, the great that he did in selling us on this university and what could be done here, then all the support that he's given to our program. He certainly deserves a tremendous amount of credit for any success that we have had because of the way that he sets the table and has served us so well. I think most things that you would stand here and look around here and see, he's had some hand in making all the athletic facilities what they are, I think first class in so many ways.
"More than that he's a class gentleman, probably as fine as you'll ever meet, and he's certainly been a good friend, and his support has certainly been appreciated."
Alabama president Dr. Judy L. Bonner said Moore will be remembered for his lasting impact on the school.
"Coach Moore was a transformational figure, a true visionary and a real friend to all who worked at The University of Alabama and loved it like Mal did," Bonner said in a statement. "He was one of our best ambassadors and spent the vast majority of his life in service to his beloved Crimson Tide. Some people hope they can make a difference in life but Mal showed us all how to do it. Mal was a special friend to many and our collective thoughts and prayers are with his family, whom he loved with all of his heart."