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MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2007
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Alabama hits funding goal of $70 million for athletics

From Staff Reports

TUSCALOOSA — About five years after starting a funding campaign for athletic facilities, The University of Alabama announced Sunday that it has raised more than $70 million.

The school began the campaign shortly after the NCAA hit the football program with sanctions Feb. 1, 2002.

“When the final word came down from the NCAA, we knew we couldn’t just stand still,” Alabama athletics director Mal Moore said. “We could not wait until the end of the five-year probation to see where we were and to assess our needs. ... We felt that building new facilities and improving existing ones was the best way to do it. If we had waited until the end of the probation, we would have been too far behind.”

That’s when the school created the Crimson Tradition facilities campaign.

A committee of 35 financial supporters, including Decatur resident Britt Sexton, was formed and a goal of $50 million was set for athletic facilities construction and renovations.

“The committee members knew what was at stake, and they hit the ground running,” Moore said. “They made personal commitments and they led us to many more donors. They spent valuable hours of their time making this a reality.”

As the committee began securing gifts, the school began building. New facilities for golf, tennis, and soccer were built. Bryant Hall was gutted and transformed into the Paul W. Bryant Academic Center.

The Athletic Administration Building was remodeled and an adjoining football complex was constructed. A major renovation of Coleman Coliseum and a north end zone expansion to Bryant-Denny Stadium began and were later completed.

In fewer than four years, the school reached its $50 million goal.

“After we achieved our initial goal of $50 million,” Moore said, “the decision was made to go ahead and add another level of skyboxes in the Bryant-Denny Stadium expansion, as well as to build the north end zone plaza area.”

Moore received permission from Alabama President Robert E. Witt to change the goal to $70 million.

“He called it our fourth-quarter drive,” Moore said.

Before Saturday’s A-Day Game, members of the Crimson Tradition committee gathered at a luncheon in their honor to celebrate the official close of the five-year campaign.

“We finished the campaign with just over $70 million pledged,” Moore said.

Witt said he sees the new athletic facilities as a magnet to the school.

“With the construction or renovation of seven structures, our athletic programs and facilities are some of the most impressive in, not only the SEC, but the nation,” he said.

Even though the school reached its goal, it hasn’t stopped raising funds.

“We’re really just getting started,” Moore said. “The Crimson Tradition campaign served its purpose and provided us with the facilities we so desperately needed. Through the recently formed Crimson Tide Foundation, we will continue to aggressively raise scholarship monies for our more than 500 student-athletes in 21 sports.”

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