January 16, 2017

Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne is expected to replace Alabama AD Bill Battle, who announced Sunday that he is stepping down, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of an agreement were still being worked out between Byrne and Alabama.

Byrne has been at Arizona since 2010. He was AD at Mississippi State from 2008-10.

The Arizona Daily Star first reported the 45-year-old Byrne would be Battle's replacement. Arizona booster Jeff Stevens confirmed to the newspaper that Byrne, a former Mississippi State athletic director, is leaving.

Arizona spokesman Jeremy Sharpe said the university could not confirm Byrne's impending departure.

Byrne is considered one of the top young athletic administrators in the country. He is the son of former longtime Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne.

Alabama spokesman Chris Bryant said the school could disclose a timeframe for announcing a replacement. The 75-year-old Battle has run Alabama's athletic department since March 2013. University President Stuart R. Bell said Battle will continue running the department until a successor takes over.

''Bill has done a tremendous job as director of athletics, and has accomplished so much during his career,'' Bell said. ''His business expertise, coupled with his coaching experience and his strong understanding of the role an athletic department has in the daily fabric of a university, has allowed us to achieve the great successes we have enjoyed during his tenure. We are blessed to have the continued benefit of his counsel.''

Battle announced in July that he had completed a stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma. He said in a statement that health was not a factor in his decision to retire, but that he wanted to spend time at his farm in Georgia and in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He said he remains in full remission.

Battle said his plan was always to step down after four years and that he informed Bell before his cancer treatment. Battle's contract with Alabama runs out in March.

''I told him that he should be looking for a replacement,'' he said. ''That process has been going on over the last few months.''

Battle is a former Tennessee head football coach who played on Bear Bryant's first national championship team at Alabama in 1961. The 1981 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame inductee replaced his Crimson Tide teammate, the late Mal Moore.

Battle founded Collegiate Licensing Company in 1981, which he sold 26 years later.

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AP Sports Writer John Zenor contributed to this report.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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