The Battle Plan


November 8, 2013

Thanks for checking out the first installment of my blog on rolltide.com. One of my primary objectives since taking over as Director of Athletics last March is to find an effective way to communicate directly with you, our fans and stakeholders.

I am excited about what's happening throughout our great University, and especially our Department of Athletics. Our plan is to share with you the great things our student-athletes, coaches, and staff are doing, not only in the competitive arena, but also in achieving the three tenets of our Department of Athletics Mission:

  1. Recruit and develop student-athletes to compete at the highest levels in intercollegiate athletics in all of our sports,
  2. Educate and prepare our student-athletes to compete at the highest levels in life after graduation,
  3. Accomplish the above with honor and integrity.

The University of Alabama made a big difference in my life. Lessons learned in the classroom were essential to my preparation to face the world. Lessons learned on the playing field, through competition at the highest levels may have had an even greater impact on my life. It is my hope that our department can make a positive difference in all of our student-athletes' lives during their time here, as we prepare them to reach their full potential as contributing members of society.

Winning with Class

With our big game with LSU less than 36 hours away at this writing, I want to share with you my appreciation for the tremendous passion and support that our fans provide for our athletic teams here at Alabama. That support is evident not only in football, but in our other sports as well. I cannot remind you enough what a tremendous factor that plays in our teams' ability to succeed in competition.

That passion has become evident to the nation via our many nationally televised events (76 events in 10 sports were nationally televised during the 2012-13 academic year), particularly our football, menís & womenís basketball, and softball games. More than our excellent attendance in several sports, our fans also have earned a reputation for being among the most hospitable and friendly in the nation by those that visit our campus.

As we enter the stretch run of the football season, and with basketball season just starting, I want to remind our fans of the value that good sportsmanship brings to our University and our athletic teams. It creates a positive reputation, living up to what Coach Bryant called ďwinning with classĒ. Letís continue to earn that very positive reputation as we reach the crucial part of the football season.

A Sign of Respect

There has been much speculation this week about the possibility of Coach Saban leaving Alabama to become head coach at another school. While this talk does much to create distractions for our fans and the media, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that it has not affected the focus, determination and drive of our head coach, the coaching staff or the players in their preparation for this week's big game with LSU.

As the nation learned in the recent "60 Minutes" feature on our great head coach, we have a man leading our program whose attention to detail and consistent approach to developing the total person has not only transformed our football program, but also has made an indelible impact on our entire University. His emphasis on academics, leadership, life skills, accountability, and many other areas is living proof that our previously stated Mission can be achieved. We are truly blessed to have Coach Saban as our football coach. It is a high compliment of the quality of the program that he has developed at the Capstone that such speculation garners so much attention. It is merely one more indication that our program and his process are the gold standard of college football.

Counterfeit Tickets & Bag Policy

Each year during the run-up to our more high profile football games, concerns arise about counterfeit tickets and what items are allowed into our stadium. As the LSU game beckons, I wanted to remind you of a couple of things regarding these issues.

If you have any doubt about the validity of your football game tickets, you can visit the UA Athletic Ticket Office at Coleman Coliseum to verify your tickets during regular business hours, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. On game day those tickets can be verified beginning at 3 p.m. by University officials on Saturday at the stadium by reporting to Gate 3 or Gate 32. Officials will be available at those gates to examine any tickets.

Unfortunately, counterfeit tickets Ė sold on the Internet and by individuals around the stadium and on campus on game day Ė can lead to some fans being defrauded. With this in mind, remember that any person who purchases a stolen or counterfeit ticket may be denied admission at the gates and any individual trying to gain entry with a ticket found to be fraudulent could be subject to investigation. Also, any person in the stadium who is caught with a stolen or counterfeit ticket will be ejected.

The lone authorized outlet for Alabama football tickets is the UA Athletic Ticket Office. Buyers who purchase tickets from other sources do so at their own risk.

Bryant-Denny Stadium gate agents will be strictly and consistently applying the rules at this Saturday's game. So, even if you have been able to take an over-sized bag into the stadium before, you should not count on being able to do that this weekend.

Bryant-Denny Stadium and all Alabama athletics facilities prohibit the following items:

  • Oversized bags over 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches (includes backpacks, purses, etc.)
  • Chair backs larger than a single seat (16 inches wide)
  • Coolers
  • Weapons
  • Artificial noisemakers (bells, horns, whistles, cow bells, etc.)
  • Outside food or drink
  • Strollers
  • Umbrellas
  • Video recorders or camcorders
  • Computers
  • Cameras with telephoto lenses over 6 inches long
  • Flags and banners on poles
Academic Excellence

This is an exciting time to be a part of Alabama Athletics. The success of our programs continues to be evident both academically and athletically. We recently saw another indication of the excellent job that our student-athletes are doing in the classroom as our Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score rose to an 86 this year. That score exceeds acceptable standards for completion of undergraduate studies nationally for the period covering student-athletes who attended the University during 2003-06, according to figures released by the NCAA.

The GSR measures graduation rates at Division I institutions and includes student-athletes transferring into their institutions. The GSR also allows institutions to subtract student-athletes who leave their institutions prior to graduation as long as they would have been academically eligible to compete had they remained.

Those scores are another strong indicator of the importance we place on education and the balanced excellence our teams continue to exhibit in both academics and athletics. Seven of our 16 intercollegiate athletics programs in existence at the time (women's golf, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball as well as menís golf and menís swimming and diving) achieved perfect scores of 100. That tied Vanderbilt as the program with the most teams in the SEC with a perfect 100.

To have seven teams with a perfect score of a 100 speaks volumes about the hard work and dedication of so many when it comes to the ultimate goal of earning a degree. Iím very proud of our student-athletes, faculty, coaches, staff and everyone who strives to keep us moving forward in this vital area.

Nine of our programs recorded a GSR score of at least 90 and 12 were over 80. Our GSR of 86 was second overall in the SEC, just behind Vanderbilt. Our defending NCAA Champion menís golf team led the league with perfect GSR score of 100. The womenís golf, soccer, women's tennis, volleyball and menís swimming and diving teams also led the SEC with GSR scores of 100. The womenís track and field team also led the league, tallying a score of 96.

The Tide's two-time defending national champion football team was again ranked in the top half of the SEC with a score of 73. The Alabama womenís swimming and diving team was second, just behind conference newcomer Missouri, with a score of 97. The Tide menís basketball team was once again third in the SEC with a score 77, a six point jump from the year before, while the menís track and field team was fourth with a score of 83.

The NCAA GSR and the Academic Success Rate (ASR) were developed in response to college and university presidents who wanted graduation data that more accurately reflected the mobility among college students today. Both rates improve on the federally mandated graduation rate by including students who were omitted from the federal calculation.

Volleyball Heating Up; Basketball Season Begins

In addition to the football game with LSU this Saturday night, our vastly improved womenís volleyball team hosts Arkansas on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Foster Auditorium before hosting Missouri on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Foster. Coach Ed Allen has done a tremendous job of building a winner over the last three years. This yearís team is currently 19-6 overall entering the weekend, 6-4 in the SEC, and has a chance to earn an NCAA Tournament berth. If you are in town for the football game, I strongly encourage you to support Coach Allen and his team during this crucial part of their schedule.

Also, our men's and women's basketball teams open their regular seasons this weekend on the road. Coach Grant and the menís team takes on Oklahoma later this afternoon in Dallas and our new womenís basketball coach, Kristy Curry, leads the Crimson Tide against Chattanooga tonight at 6:30. I am excited about the start of basketball season and enthused about the leadership both of our coaches provide for their teams. They need your support as we continue add to the rich tradition of both programs.

Teamwork

In closing this first blog entry, I wanted to discuss the value of teamwork. I have been very impressed by the great teamwork shown by our athletic teams over the time I have been in the corner office as the Director of Athletics. That ďteam firstĒ mentality is not limited to our athletics teams, but also is evident to me every day in observing the way our staff members work together on so many initiatives throughout each day.

Working in Athletics is more than merely a job. It truly is a lifestyle. While our department is a large one, I have been very gratified to see that we have people working for our department whose priorities are in the right place. They understand that they are truly here to serve the student-athletes and coaches that represent our school. Their dedication often goes unnoticed by the public at-large.

I just wanted to give our staff a tip of the hat for their dedication, commitment to service, work ethic and positive attitude. Great teams are unselfish and willing to sacrifice "ME" for the good of "WE". Our first responsibility as an individual on the team is to do our job first, and then (and only then) see where we can best serve the team. We lift up members who are in need. We pitch in when other positions have difficult workloads. We understand the big picture mission and prioritize our time and actions accordingly.

Success is a journey and not a destination. As we strive to accomplish our very important Mission, I am proud to say that our staff not only understands the difficulty of the journey, but also the value of everyone on the team pulling in the same direction to get there.

Have a great weekend and ROLL TIDE!

Bill Battle signature

     

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