Andrea Williams, the first female commissioner in the history of the Big Sky Conference, has accepted a new position as the chief operating officer of the College Football Playoff, CFP executive director Bill Hancock confirmed on Tuesday morning.
Williams took over in April of 2016 following Doug Fullerton’s retirement after 20 years at the helm for the league. She has been a member of the CFP’s advisory committee and stadium operations team.
“Andrea has all the tools,” Hancock said in a press release. “Her deep knowledge of college football and her strong experience in administering major events make her a terrific addition to our team. She’s a leader. And she is a warm, thoughtful, caring person. She will fit right in.”
In her new role, Williams primarily will be responsible for managing the national championship game and all affiliated events. She will also be the primary liaison with six bowl games that participate in the CFP arrangement, and will also manage the process for selecting sites for the championship games.
Williams was a member of the Big Ten Conference staff for 16 years, including 10 as associate commissioner and director of the football championship game—she was the first director of that game—and the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
“I’m incredibly humbled to be selected as the CFP’s chief operating officer,” Williams said. “This is a very special organization and the people involved are first class. I am excited for this tremendous opportunity and honored to join the CFP team. I also want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Big Sky Conference’s outstanding presidents, administrators, faculty, coaches, athletes and league staff I was privileged to work with.”
Williams was on the NCAA staff in Indianapolis for two years, serving as director of the NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship. She worked with host cities, the selection committee and various operational matters. Previously, she had been on the staff of the Southern Conference.
Williams is a graduate of Texas A&M, where she was a volleyball and basketball student-athlete. She earned a Master’s in sport administration from Ohio University.
She replaces Michael Kelly, the CFP’s first chief operating officer, who last month was named athletics director at the University of South Florida. Williams becomes the second former Division I commissioner on the CFP staff, along with senior director of marketing and strategic partnerships Alfred White, previously with the Southern Conference.
Under Williams’s leadership, the 2011 Big Ten football championship game received the 2012 SportsTravel Award for “Best New Sports Event.” She has also been recognized with honors that include the 2017 Shadow League Leadership Award, 2014 SportsBusiness Journal Class of Game Changers (Women in Sports Business) and 2014 CEFMA Event Manager of the Year. Williams serves on a number of national committees including the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Board, John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation, NCAA Sexual Assault Prevention Commission and NACDA FCS Athletic Director of the Year Selection committee.
Press Release from College Football Playoff committee.