Alabama hires Arizona's Greg Byrne as athletic director

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Greg Byrne is returning to the Southeastern Conference as Alabama's athletic director after running Arizona's athletic department since 2010.

The university announced Monday that Byrne, currently the Wildcats' vice president for athletics, will take over March 1. Bill Battle announced his retirement as Alabama's athletic director Sunday night.

''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,'' Alabama President Stuart R. Bell said. He added that Byrne is ''uniquely qualified for this role.''

The 45-year-old Byrne was Mississippi State's athletic director from 2008-10 before leaving for Arizona. He hired Wildcats football coach Rich Rodriguez and the Bulldogs' Dan Mullen.

''We look forward to returning to the SEC and being a part of Alabama's outstanding tradition,'' Byrne said.

The Wildcats completed construction of the $72 million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility on his watch and finished the first phase of an $80 million renovation of the McKale Center, home to Arizona's basketball program and athletic department.

Byrne joins an athletic program that has won 10 national championships in five sports since 2008, including four titles in football.

Byrne is the son of Bill Byrne, who retired as Texas A&M's athletic director in 2012. The 75-year-old Battle will become special assistant to the president.

The hire needs approval from Alabama trustees to become official.