Last Week, University of Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore

Posted By rotary

Mal Moore began by thanking Rotarians for serving our communities and thanked our club for sponsoring Caring Days.

A few years ago, Coach Moore asked permission from President Witt to raise money for the Athletic Program .  The goal was $50 million in 5 years.  They raised $70 million in 4 years!  The best story that can be told related to this fundraiser came when an 80 year old gentleman by the name of James Fail called and asked to make a contribution.  An appointment was made with Mr. Fail.

In the meantime, a team from the University traveled to see what other schools like Texas, Arkansas and S. Carolina had done.  We had a goal of renovating Coleman Coliseum, Foster Auditorium, Bryant Hall and the Football Building.  Architects rendered drawings and soon the team was ready to begin the task ahead.

They went to Mr. James Fail’s office in Birmingham – which was tastefully adorned with Alabama memorabilia including a large portrait of Paul ”Bear” Bryant.  The meeting went quite well and Mr. Fail proved to be quite the conversationalist!  At the end of the meeting he stated “Well, I will either donate $100,000 or $1 Million.  I’ll let you know in a week!”.  Low and behold – he donated the $1 million!!  Coach Moore returned to his office and left information regarding “naming rights” with him.

 Mr. Fail requested to hold a luncheon in his office suite at 11am on a Sunday morning.  His entire family was in attendance, and he announced that he would be naming the Media Suite after his Father-in-Law, Naylor Stone, who had been the longtime sports editor at the Birmingham News.  During the excitement, Coach Moore joked with him that for another million dollars they would let him name the visiting team locker room!  He accepted and to this day, when the visiting team arrives they see the words “The Fail Room” above their locker room!  

Mr. Fail also received a box in the North End Zone, and commented to Coach Moore “You know Mal, I have a lot more friends than I thought I had!” and they both had a very good laugh.  Although Mr. Fail has now passed, his legacy lives on and Coach Moore said her will never forget his generosity and friendship.

Coach Moore talked about what a great job Robert Witt had done at the University and how things changed hands seamlessly when Dr. Judy Bonner served as the interim President.   Now with Dr. Guy Bailey in as the new President – he sees even more great things on the horizon.  Coach Moore told a story about meeting a sweet little old lady three years back at a party before the Rose Bowl where she chastised him for having to go on ebay to find a third ticket she needed in addition to her two season tickets. 

Coach Moore told her if she ever needed help again – to give him a call.  Well a few weeks ago, Judy Tanner, the Admin for the Athletics Department came in and said “Coach – did you tell a little lady to call you if she ever needed help with tickets?”  He said he answered “Well – yes that sounds familiar, what is her name?”  Judy replied “Ms. Bailey”.  Then Coach Moore exclaimed “Oh Hell, Judy!!!  That is the new Presidents Mama!  Get her on the phone!”.  Everybody got a good laugh out of this! Coach Moore continued with more stories such as how well the reunion of Coach Bryant’s first team went five years ago with around 60 – 65 players showing up.  

He then spoke about the success of the University with over 200 National Merit Scholars enrolled as Freshmen this year.  He spoke about the National Championships of Men’s and Women’s Golf, Softball, Gymnastics and how the academic strength of our athletes helps in the recruiting process.  Coupled with our state of the art facilities we don’t lose any prospective athletes.  Our Academic Center at Bryant Hall has resulted in 74% of athletes graduating as compared to 66% of the regular student body!  John Deaver has done an excellent job in helping our athletes graduate.  We had 9 Academic All Americans last year and we are 4th in the Nation for producing All Americans. 

He reminisced about the plane ride back with Nick Saban after he was hired as our Head Football Coach.  He said Coach Saban was laying back in his seat and sat up and said “Well, I guess you think I am one Hell of a Coach!” and before Coach Moore could answer he said “Well, I am not worth a damn without the players!”  That has been his key to success – recruiting only the best and brightest.  We are a winning team!


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