Bill Hancock has achieved a unique trifecta at the highest echelon of intercollegiate athletics. He was the first full-time director of the NCAA Final Four, the first executive director of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and the first executive director of the College Football Playoff. Using experiences gained during his remarkable five-decade career Hancock led the conference commissioners and university presidents in creating the playoff. Then he directed a talented staff in launching the event from scratch. The playoff is a phenomenal success; in its first year, it was named Sports Event of the Year by Sports Business Journal. His five-decade career began in 1971 when he became assistant sports information director at the University of Oklahoma. He spent 16 years with the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, 13 years as its director. In 2005, he was appointed administrator of the BCS. He became executive director in 2009 and was named to the same role for the playoff when it was created in 2012. Hancock has served on the United States Olympic Committee staff at 12 Olympic Games and two Pan American Games. He has been inducted into the halls of fame of the state of Oklahoma, College Sports Information Directors and the All College Basketball Classic. A former newspaper editor, Bill has written two books. His memoir about the cross-country bicycle journey he undertook in the aftermath of his son's death, Riding With the Blue Moth, was among the top sports books after its release in October, 2005. It was re-issued in 2015. His second book, This One Day in Hobart is a history of his home town. He is married to his high school sweetheart, the former Nicki Perry.More
Laila Brock joined the College Football Playoff staff after serving as Director of Events and Team Operations for the Orange Bowl Committee. She received a bachelor’s degree in communications and mass media research, as well as a master’s degree in counselor education from Pennsylvania State University. At Penn State, she was captain of the Nittany Lion women’s track and field team. Brock was also a member of the 1997 United States Jr. National Track and Field team and competed in the Jr. Pan-American Games in Havana, Cuba. Brock is a member of Women in Sports and Events (WISE), Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). She is originally from Washington, Pennsylvania.
Claudia Dorsey previously worked in corporate relationships at the NCAA prior to joining the playoff, servicing several of the NCAA’s top accounts and delivering on-site activation at the Men’s Final Four, Men’s and Women’s College World Series, Volleyball, Wrestling and other championships. A native of Chicago, Dorsey began as an intern with the White Sox in sales and cross-functional marketing, before being hired as an account executive in group sales. She then transitioned to client services and database administration. Dorsey is a graduate of DePaul University, where she received a bachelor of arts in psychology. She and her husband, Ryan, recently welcomed their first child, Mason.
Prior to joining the College Football Playoff, Allison Doughty spent seven years at the Atlantic Coast Conference in a variety of positions, most recently as Director of Football Operations and Event Management. Additionally, she spent one year at the Peach Bowl working in events. She received a bachelor’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in sports administration from Ohio University. Her interest in the industry stems from her father, a sportswriter for the Roanoke Times for over 40 years. Her love of football began at an early age as she was born the day of what is now known as simply “The Play” on the 85th anniversary of the Stanford-Cal game. She is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and a Sports Management Institute (SMI) graduate. Doughty is a native of Roanoke, Virginia.
Nikki Epley joined the College Football Playoff after spending five years with the University of Kansas Alumni Association. Epley has served as the Director of Operations and Events for the South Florida Super Bowl XLI Host Committee, Director of Special Events for the Jacksonville Super Bowl XXXIX Host Committee and was an Associate Director for the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at the NCAA. She has also worked the past seven Super Bowls with the stadium operations team. A graduate from Wichita State University, she earned a BA and MA in Sports Business/Administration and was a middle infielder for the Shocker softball team, wearing #8 after her childhood idol, Cal Ripken. She is member of Collegiate Event and Facility Management Association (CEFMA), Stadium Managers Association (SMA) and National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA). Epley grew up just outside of Wichita in Valley Center, Kansas.
Tim Frick comes to the College Football Playoff after spending four years with Baker Hughes, a publicly traded oil services company, where he served in both internal audit and corporate finance roles. Experienced in both public accounting and corporate finance, Frick is a certified public accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant. Prior to his time at Baker Hughes, he spent four years as the business and ticket manager of the Big 12 Conference and two years with the public accounting firm Grant Thornton. A native of Oklahoma, he holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma.
Wes Gentry became the third member of the College Football Playoff staff, joining Executive Director Bill Hancock in March 2013. A native of Oklahoma, Gentry received an undergraduate degree in geography from the University of Oklahoma. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado, as well as a graduate certificate in Christian studies from Denver Seminary. Most recently, he worked for the Denver Post. Gentry and his wife, Becky, have two children, Jackson and Hollis.
Ben Habern joined the College Football Playoff as a full-time staff member after previously serving as the Marketing and Strategic Partnerships intern for the 2014-15 season. Before his time at the playoff, Habern worked as a graduate assistant in the Office of Trademark Licensing at the University of Oklahoma and also spent time as an intern for Oklahoma Athletics’ Sooner Club. As an undergraduate, Habern played center and was a team captain for the University of Oklahoma football team. A native of Denton, Texas, he is married to wife, Morgan.
Joining the College Football Playoff in July 2015, Ryan Hall previously served as Associate Director of Academic and Membership Affairs for the NCAA. His primary duties included oversight and management of the NCAA legislative-relief waiver process and administration of the NCAA supplemental support fund. Prior to his time at the NCAA, Hall practiced law with Strauss & Troy L.P.A. in Ohio as a general civil litigation associate. A native of Austin, Texas, Hall earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Rice University where he was a member of the Owls baseball team. He received his juris doctorate from the University of Notre Dame Law School. Hall and his wife, Kimera, have two daughters, Kayleigh and Kamryn.
Michael Kelly was selected as the Chief Operating Officer in November 2012. Immediately prior to that, Kelly served as Senior Associate Commissioner for the Atlantic Coast Conference, overseeing broadcasting, communications and football over the course of his six years in Greensboro. He is the only person to ever serve as lead local executive for three different Super Bowls in three different communities, having been President of the Super Bowl Host Committee in Tampa Bay (Super Bowl XXXV), Jacksonville (Super Bowl XXXIX) and South Florida (Super Bowl XLI). He also served as the Executive Director for the 1999 NCAA Men’s Final Four Local Organizing Committee. Kelly spent four years on campus serving two intercollegiate athletic departments in roles as Director of Athletic Operations and Facilities at Wake Forest University and as Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs at the University of South Florida. A founding board member of the Collegiate Event and Facilities Management Association (CEFMA), Kelly also serves on the President’s Board of Advisors for St. Thomas University (Miami Gardens, FL), the Alumni Association Council for St. John’s College High School (Washington, DC), the Board of Advisors for the University of North Carolina’s Center for Research in Intercollegiate Athletics and the National Sports Advisory Committee for the American Arbitration Association. He also proudly serves as an officer for the College Football Playoff Foundation and was instrumental in the development of its Extra Yard For Teachers initiative that focuses on honoring, celebrating, inspiring and empowering educators throughout the country. In local community efforts, Kelly serves on the Parks Board for the Town of Flower Mound and is a member of the Church & Society Committee of Flower Mound United Methodist Church. Kelly graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wake Forest University, where he received a bachelor’s in politics. Additionally, he holds a master’s in sports administration from St. Thomas University. A passionate supporter of the sports administration and event management industries, Kelly has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Tampa and St. Thomas University, and has lectured at dozens of colleges around the country. In 2006, Kelly was named to the Sports Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” and was presented with St. Thomas University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. He and his wife, Lisa, have two daughters, Cara and Seana.
Lauren Lanier joined the College Football Playoff in spring 2014. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2013, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism. While at CU, Lanier worked for Colorado Athletics in the Sports Information Department for four years. During her time as an undergrad, she served as an ESPNU Campus Connection correspondent and spent the summer of 2013 completing an internship at the National Football Foundation (NFF). Lanier is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) and the Heart of Dallas Young Professionals (HODYP) organization. She is originally from Dallas, Texas.
Gina Lehe spent 16 years working in the college football bowl industry prior to joining the College Football Playoff, having most recently serving as Director of Media for the Rose Bowl Game. Lehe served in similar capacities for the Insight Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. She is a member of the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM), College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame and Public Relations and Media Committee for the Football Bowl Association (FBA). Lehe graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor of arts in communications. Originally from Pacific Grove, California, she is married to husband, Adam. The Lehe’s have a daughter, Adriana.
Jason Sabatino comes to the College Football Playoff after most recently serving as the associate director of NCAA Championships and Alliances, Marketing and Ticketing, where he oversaw the ticket operations for the NCAA’s Division I Men’s Basketball Championship preliminary rounds and Final Four. Prior to his time with the NCAA, Sabatino worked for Cleveland Cavaliers, LLC, as Manager of Ticketing Operations, where he supported strategic ticketing initiatives for the Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA), Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) and Quicken Loans Arena. He enjoyed a stint in the same capacity for the New York Islanders (NHL) during 2007-2008. Sabatino spent nine years in various posts at Boston University, both in the Department of Athletics and with Agganis Arena. He began his career as collegiate administrator while serving as Business Manager for the America East Conference from 1997-1999. A native of Massachusetts, Sabatino earned his bachelor’s degree in sports management from Southern New Hampshire University. He and his wife, Meagan, have two daughters, Lucy and Caroline.
Courtney Stanford joined the College Football Playoff in the fall of 2015. She previously worked at Active Network as a Marketing Assistant in the Commerce Division. A 2012 graduate of Texas Tech University, she received a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science with a concentration in sports management. While at TTU, Stanford worked in the Recreational Sports Department for two years. Stanford has also spent time working for Cadence Sports as a Marketing and Event Management intern, as well as for the Frisco RoughRiders, serving as Community Development and Foundation intern. A native of Southlake, Texas, she is married to Lowell.
Rijo Walker joined the College Football Playoff in the fall of 2016 after previously serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, the University of Virginia. Prior to returning to Charlottesville, Walker spent one season at Virginia State University in Petersburg as a defensive graduate assistant for the Trojans football program. A four-year letterwinner for the Virginia Cavaliers, during his time as a football student-athlete, Walker was named special teams captain in 2013. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in athletic administration, both from the University of Virginia. He is originally from Hampton, Virginia.
Prior to joining the College Football Playoff in 2016, White served as Senior Associate Commissioner at Conference USA for 12 years. In that role, he oversaw football, baseball and men’s golf. His football responsibilities included managing the conference’s bowl relationships, officiating and the conference championship game. He was the founding president of the NBA Development League’s Asheville Altitude from 2001-2004. From 1998-2001, White served as the Commissioner of the Southern Conference. He also served 15 years on staff at the NCAA in the areas of communications, promotions and corporate marketing, being named the NCAA Director of Corporate Marketing in 1997. A native of Houston, White holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University. He and his wife Judy, who have been married for over 25 years, have one daughter, Cassidy.
Joining the College Football Playoff in October 2015, Allyson Wilker previously served as Business and Events Coordinator at Conference USA. Wilker graduated magna cum laude from Baylor University in 2012 with a bachelor of business administration in marketing and received her master of science in education-sports management in May 2014. While working toward her master’s, Wilker worked for the Waco Foundation, Baylor Campus Recreation-Intramural Sports and the Waco Convention Center. An Austin, Texas native, she is married to Jake.
Billy Barnes, Stadium and Game Operations
Chante Freeman, Events and Business Operations
Jakob Gutierrez, Marketing and Strategic Partnerships
Lindsey LeJeune, Communications
Olivia Mitchell, Team Operations
Caroline Palmer, Community Relations