University of Alabama Names New Athletic Director
Greg Byrne, Vice President for Athletics at the University of Arizona, will become the new Director of Athletics at The University of Alabama effective March 1, pending approval of The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees. The 45-year-old Byrne, who his highly respected in his field, will be formally introduced to the media later this week.
“We knew Bill was considering a change, and we wanted to hire someone who can assume that mantle of leadership and continue the tradition of success that Bill and so many others before him have established,” said Stuart R. Bell, UA’s president. “We believe Greg Byrne is uniquely qualified for this role, and we are pleased to announce he has accepted the position of athletic director here at The University of Alabama.”
“Regina and I are honored to be joining the University of Alabama,” said Byrne. “I have incredible respect and admiration for both Coach Battle and Coach Moore, as well as all of the talented coaches and staff in place. We look forward to returning to the SEC and being a part of Alabama’s outstanding tradition.”
A native of Pocatello, Idaho, Byrne accepted the Vice President for Athletics position at Arizona in March 2010. He has helped Arizona Athletics become a prominent player nationally and in the Pac-12 conference by focusing on five important principles: Graduate Student-Athletes; Follow the Rules; Represent the University and Athletic Department in a First-Class Manner; Practice Sound Fiscal Management; and Compete for Championships. During his tenure at Arizona, he has also focused on new fundraising initiatives, member expansion for the Wildcat Club and facility upgrades.
Under his leadership, the Wildcats have seen construction completed on the $72 million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility and the completion of Phase I of an overall $80 million renovation of the McKale Center, home to Arizona’s basketball program and its Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Byrne also put a bold plan in place in 2011 to relocate the Arizona baseball program from its on-campus facility to an iconic minor league ballpark, which instantly upgraded the program’s facilities and enhanced the fan experience. In 2012, the Wildcats hosted the NCAA regional and super regional tournaments for the first time in 20 years on its way to capturing the school’s fourth national championship. Average attendance nearly tripled in the first two years at the stadium.
Prior to arriving at Arizona, 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. He started out his career at Mississippi State in 2006 as Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs. Byrne also held athletics administrative roles at the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and the University of Kentucky. He is the son of long-time athletics administrator Bill Byrne, who has over 30 years of experience as an athletic director and is the former Athletic Director at Texas A&M University.
Byrne earned his bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University in 1994 and his master’s degree from Mississippi State in 2009. He is married to the former Regina Misa of Junction City, Ore., and the couple has two sons, Nick and Davis.
Byrne will assume leadership of a highly successful athletic program at The University of Alabama, one that has won 10 national championships in five different sports and has earned 23 Southeastern Conference (SEC) titles in seven different sports since 2008. Over that span, Crimson Tide student-athletes have earned 92 individual SEC championships spanning nine different sports.
Thus far in the 2016-17 academic year, Alabama has won one SEC team title, produced four All-Americans and one Academic All-America honoree. During the 2015-16 academic year, Alabama won two SEC titles while seven of 17 teams finished their respective seasons ranked among the top 25 nationally, including four national top-10 finishes and one national title. Individually in 2015-16, six student-athletes earned individual NCAA championships.
Alabama’s success in graduating student-athletes reflects a culture that has placed a premium on academic excellence. That emphasis has resulted in a national-best (tied with Stanford) 66 Academic All-Americans since 2010 and an SEC-leading 114 Academic All-Americans since 2000 (third nationally). Over the last six years, Alabama has had nine student-athletes earn Academic All-American of the Year honors, the most by any school in the nation over that span, and UA student-athletes have been named Academic All-American of the Year for all sports in three of the last four years.
Crimson Tide student-athletes graduate at a rate of 72 percent with a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 92 in 2016, which ranked second in the SEC and was up one point from the previous year (the GSR spans the period covering students who attended the University during 2005-08). In addition to standing in the top two in the SEC with its overall GSR, the Crimson Tide was first or tied for first in nine different sports.
In 2016, the Alabama football team led the SEC and ranked second nationally in graduates on its roster for postseason play with 22. From 2013-15, Alabama football led the nation three consecutive years in graduates on its roster for postseason play. With 29 in 2015, the Tide set a national record for the most graduates ever playing on a single team in postseason action. Alabama’s last 4 football national title teams (2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015) included a combined total of 89 players who had earned their degrees prior to game time. From 2009-16, 162 Alabama football players earned their degrees (undergraduate and graduate) while still active on the Crimson Tide roster. The Crimson Tide had the highest Graduation Success Rate (86) among the four teams selected for the 2016 College Football Playoff and the second-highest GSR (80) of the four teams selected for the 2017 College Football Playoff.
The 2016 season marked the eighth consecutive year that the Crimson Tide football team suited up more than 20 graduates for a bowl game as 22 Crimson Tide players already had earned diplomas prior to the postseason. Three Tide football players graduated with master’s degrees in the 2016 fall semester.