College Football Playoff Executive Director is recognized for his leadership role during a period of dramatic change.
The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today that Bill Hancock, the first and only executive director of both the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and the College Football Playoff (CFP), will be the 2023 recipient of the NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award. He will officially be honored Dec. 5 during the 65th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas at the ARIA Resort & Casino.
“Bill developed an impressive understanding of college athletics and an even more impressive set of relationships during a career that has spanned more than five decades,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “His unique experiences, coupled with his collegial demeanor, made him the perfect confidante of presidents, commissioners, and athletics directors as they worked through a series of dramatic changes that have improved college football for all its stakeholders. We are thrilled to honor him, and we look forward to celebrating his career at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner in Las Vegas.”
First presented in 1974, the NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award provides national recognition to those whose efforts to support the NFF and its goals have been local in nature or who have made significant contributions to the game of football either to the manner in which it is played and coached or to the manner in which it is enjoyed by spectators. Hancock becomes the 44th recipient of the award.
“Wow, it’s a wonderful honor to be recognized by the NFF, and to be included among such terrific leaders, including my Big Eight Conference colleagues Chuck Neinas and Prentice Gautt, and my old NCAA office neighbor, Dennie Poppe,” said Hancock upon learning of the honor. “We all love the game of college football and appreciate the good work that the NFF continues to do.”
Hancock was the first full-time director of the NCAA Men’s Final Four from 1989 to 2002. He later became the first full-time administrator of the Bowl Championship Series in 2005, assuming the role of executive director of the BCS in 2009. At the BCS, he administrated a wide range of tasks associated with staging the title game, which pitted the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams. During the season, he worked closely with the NFF to tabulate and release the weekly BCS rankings.
When the College Football Playoff was formed in 2012, he transitioned to become the executive director of the new four-team postseason format, which will expand to 12 teams after the 2023-24 season. At the CFP, his key responsibilities have included overseeing the game’s media rights, negotiating agreements with the bowl games and host cities, overseeing the staff, and managing the selection committee. The CFP’s inaugural championship game was recognized by the Sports Business Journal as the Sports Event of the Year.
Hancock announced in June that he will officially retire on Feb. 1, 2025. The current season is his 19th in college football.
During his tenure at the CFP, he has served on the NFF Future For Football Steering Committee, the NFF’s initiative that promotes football stories that inspire and inform millions of fans each year about the good in the game. Realizing the importance of the NFF’s leadership role in promoting the scholar-athlete ideal, Hancock has lent the CFP’s national spotlight to highlight the accomplishments of the NFF Campbell Trophy winner each year in the stadium during the title game.
Graduating from Oklahoma with a degree in journalism, he began his career in 1971 as assistant sports information director with the Sooners. He then spent four years as editor of the Hobart (Oklahoma) Democrat-Chief newspaper, followed by 11 years on the Big Eight Conference staff under Commissioner Chuck Neinas (the 1999 NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award recipient) and overlapping with NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell, who was an associate commissioner at the Big Eight at the time.
“I have had the privilege of knowing Bill and calling him a friend for most our professional careers, stretching all the way back to the 1970s,” said Hatchell. “College athletics, especially football, has benefited enormously from his leadership and poise. His attention to detail combined with and understanding of the big picture provided the right set of skills needed to guide college football during the past 20 years. I can not think of a more deserving name to add to the esteemed list of past recipients of the NFF Outstanding Contribution to Football Award.”
The high school gymnasium in his hometown of Hobart, Oklahoma, is named the ‘Hancock Event Center’ in honor of Bill and his brother, Joe.
Hancock has served on the United States Olympic Committee staff at 15 Olympic Games and two Pan American Games. He has been inducted into the halls of fame of the state of Oklahoma, College Sports Communicators and the All-College Basketball Classic.
Hancock will be honored during the 65th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas on Dec. 5. The 65th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas will also provide the stage for the induction of the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Class; the presentation of the 2023 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards Presented by Fidelity Investments; and the bestowing of the 34th William V. Campbell Trophy to the nation’s top football scholar- athlete. For more information on the 65th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas, including how to register for tickets, please visit Footballfoundation. org/feature/ NFF2023.