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March 31, 2013

‘He represented the whole university with class'

TUSCALOOSA | Alabama fans reacted Saturday to the death of Mal Moore, describing him as a man of good spirit who always represented the university with class.

Moore, 73, died Saturday morning at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., where he had been hospitalized for approximately three weeks due to a pulmonary condition.

"It was just shocking," said Raymond Lathum of Greensboro. "He was a good (athletic director), and we really hated to hear the bad news."

Lathum, 63, a lifelong Alabama fan, had come to Brookwood in his Crimson Tide polo shirt to watch his 5-year-old grandson, Bryson, play baseball.

Asked what he would miss most about Moore, Lathum did not hesitate.

"His good spirit," he said.

Jerry Woods, 45, of Tuscaloosa, spoke as he was shopping for Alabama gear at Alumni Hall with his son, 13-year-old Clayton. He said he would miss "that calm, but strong, face of the university."

"(Moore was) a quiet leader behind the scenes ...," Woods said. "Really, he represented the whole university with class."

Testaments to Moore were not confined to Alabama fans.

"I love Notre Dame," said Bobby Sprung, 36, who also was shopping at Alumni Hall in Midtown Village with UA student Morgan Crumpton, 23. "But at the same time, if you're going to give respect where it's due, Mal Moore deserves it."

Sprung said that even during the early years of Moore's tenure, when fans were none too pleased, he found a way to enhance the athletic facilities. And then he hired Nick Saban.

"That took moxie," Sprung said. "I don't know how you replace that. ... "(Moore) always did keep the tradition of Alabama first."

Dining at Wings U in Midtown Village with his wife, June, Rolfe Singleton of Demopolis described himself as a lifelong Alabama fan. Singleton compared Moore and his demeanor to the most iconic name in Alabama football history.

"He's just like Bear Bryant was," Singleton said and referenced the numerous championships that Moore was part of as either a player, coach or athletic director.

"Who else has been there through all that?" Singleton said.

Alabama fan Donald Butts, 32, agreed with Singleton's assessment.

"He set (such) precedents that it's going to be hard for anyone to fill his shoes," said Butts, who was at Wings U with his brother, Corey Butts, 25.

He found it tragic that Moore died so soon after the Crimson Tide football team won its 15th national championship and less than two weeks after stepping down as athletic director.

"He has established a legacy," Butts said. "He will be greatly missed."


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