On March 1, the University of Alabama welcomed a new athletic director when Greg Byrne officially began his first day on the job.

He arrived from the University of Arizona where he succeeded former Tennessee head coach and Alabama football star Bill Battle in the athletic director’s chair.

During Tuesday’s edition of The Gary Harris Show, University of Alabama director of athletics Greg Byrne reflected on his first six months in his position including the opportunities he’s had to visit with fans across the Crimson Tide community.

“I think it’s really important for me as the AD to get a chance to be around our fans, engage with them, listen to what they have to say.” Byrne said. “I think it’s important to have a chance to interact with them, talk to them, thank them for being there.”

Alabama’s director of athletics elaborated on the effort he has made on football game days to observe what happens on Saturdays in Tuscaloosa.

“I haven’t gotten around to every section but I’ve gotten to every part of the stadium to watch what we’re doing from an operational standpoint to see where our strengths are and see where maybe are challenges are as we continue to move the department forward.” Byrne said.

A crucial relationship for any athletic director in the SEC is the relationship with the head football coach. Byrne talked about his relationship with head coach Nick Saban.

“He’s been awesome, he and Miss Terry both. Obviously, admired him from a far in the past and had been around him at a few SEC meetings and some other things, but to get a chance to work with him, talk about what we’re doing as a program well, areas where we can work to get better at, what we can do to support him and the program.” Byrne said.

In addition to football, Byrne oversees 18 other varsity sports on campus. He detailed the overall outlook of all the programs on campus.

“The health is really good. We’ve got a few programs that we’re going to need to try to do everything we can to support them to have them improve.” Byrne said.

While football has a history of championship excellence, Alabama’s director of athletics stressed championship expectations and support for every Crimson Tide team.

“We’re not going to apologize. We want to go compete for championships in what we do. We’ve invested in our programs and with that investment becomes an increased expectation.” Byrne said. “There’s an opportunity here in everything that we do to go out and compete at the highest levels and we’re going to do everything we can to support our programs, our student athletes and our coaches to give them that best opportunity.”

In recent years, the future of Coleman Coliseum has drawn the attention of media and fans. Byrne outlined the positive aspects of the facility.

“We’re actually studying Coleman (Coliseum) right now and the bones of it and its functionality. The footprint of it is very good. To have the space that we have inside there is something that’s really good to work with. So we’ll see.” Byrne said.

Concerning the long-term viability of the nearly 50-year old building, Byrne weighed the options of building a new arena or making changes to the existing Coleman Coliseum.

“Do we need a new arena or is Coleman functional if we go and do some things to the interior of it from a seating standpoint, the locker rooms, the underbelly of it and is it something that would work for another 30 or 40 years? We don’t have the answer to that yet”

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