College Football Playoff appoints former Razorback Byron Hatch as new COO
January 10, 2022
Byron Hatch, a former Razorback official, has been named the chief operating officer of the College Football Playoff. He has been with the SEC for six years. Hatch most recently served as the assistant commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.
During his time with the SEC, Hatch was responsible for the league's football championship game, men's basketball tournament, and softball tournament. As part of his new role, Hatch will also be responsible for selecting sites for the College Football Playoff's six bowls.
Bill Hancock, the College Football Playoff's chief executive officer, praised Hatch for his experience and leadership. "He is an enormously well-liked and well-respected creative leader and a good person, too. He will fit right in here," said Hancock.
Before joining the SEC, Hatch worked for the University of Arkansas as its associate athletics director. He then worked for the NCAA as its membership services group.
Hatch will leave the SEC at the end of January to become the chief operating officer of the College Football Playoff. He will also be responsible for all of the organization's operations.
On November 13, 2015, the news of a terrorist attack just outside Paris' Stade de France reached the SEC's headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. It was the first series of attacks that killed 137 individuals in Paris that night.
When he was hired by the SEC, Hatch was tasked with overseeing the league's championship game. Hatch knew he had a new challenge ahead as he needed to prepare for the SEC's football game before the conference champions walked into the Georgia Dome in just 22 days.
Jeff Long, who worked with Hatch at the University of Arkansas, said that Hatch was unfazed by the pressure. "It doesn't matter what the situation is, how high-stress it might be. He is calm, he is cool under pressure and he delivers," Hatch's former colleague said.
In college, Hatch said that he always wanted to be a football player or a basketball player for Arkansas. He grew up in the state and graduated from law school two decades ago.
Although he did have an interest in playing college athletics, Hatch instead focused on academics. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 1998. After four years working in tax law, Hatch decided to volunteer in the compliance office of Texas Southern University. In 2012, he worked at the NCAA's headquarters in Indianapolis.
Long first met Hatch when he was the athletics director at the University of Arkansas. He then carved out a role for him based on his knowledge of the university and his business background. Long described Hatch as a person who can handle anything that comes his way. Hatch was able to get through challenging situations without dwelling on the past.
After three years with Arkansas, Hatch decided to leave the organization and pursue his passion for athletics.
Hatch's new career and Monday night's kickoff
Hatch's hiring resulted from a lengthy relationship between the SEC and CFP. According to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, Hatch's experience and knowledge during his time with the university prepared him for his new job.
The championship game of the College Football Playoff on Monday marks the first step in Hatch's career. The game will be held at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, about 1.5 miles from the site where Hatch started his career.
Hatch said that despite the criticism he received for working in athletics, he believed his calling was his God-given purpose. " I felt like it was my calling, my God-given purpose and the old cliche, 'Find something you love to do, and you never work a day in your life?' That's right."