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Steve Hatchell Named 2017 NFF Distinguished Texan
The NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas Chapter has selected the National Football Foundation’s president & CEO for its highest honor.
Published: 3/16/2017 11:00:00 AM

IRVING, Texas (March 16, 2017) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) Gridiron Club of Dallas Chapter announced today that Steve Hatchell, the president & CEO of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, will receive the chapter’s 2017 Distinguished Texan Award. Hatchell will accept the honor during the chapter’s Ninth Annual Awards Banquet on Sunday, April 2, at 6 p.m. CT at the Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria.

“For more than a decade, Steve Hatchell has had a profound impact on the game of football at the high school and college levels as the president and CEO of the National Football Foundation, which is based in Irving,” said Gerald Brence, president of the NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas Chapter and athletics director for the Plano Independent School District. “At the grassroots level, he oversees an impressive nationwide chapter network that blankets the country, and at the national level he has assembled one of the most influential board of directors in the country. His impact on the game both regionally and nationally make him truly deserving of our chapter’s highest honor.”

The Distinguished Texan Award, the chapter's most prestigious award, pays tribute to an outstanding person who has maintained a lifetime of interest in the game of football and has been a significant contributor to the betterment of the game. Past recipients include longtime Dallas sports talk radio staple Norm Hitzges (2016), Dallas businessman and former Texas Tech quarterback John Scovell (2015), former University of Texas Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds (2014), College Football Hall of Famer and longtime Dallas Cowboys Director of Pro Scouting John Wooten (2013), longtime Dallas Cowboys Personnel Director Gil Brandt (2012), TCU head coach Gary Patterson (2011), Dallas Cowboys Owner, President and General Manager and NFF Board Member Jerry Jones (2010) and College Football Hall of Fame coach and NFF Board Member Grant Teaff (2009).

Steve Hatchell has served as president and chief executive officer of The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame, since January 2005. During his tenure, the NFF has experienced remarkable growth. His leadership played a critical role in the opening of the state-of-the-art College Football Hall of Fame in the heart of Atlanta, and he spearheaded the launch of the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame, which has helped raise and distribute millions of dollars for the NFF scholarship programs. In 2015, Hatchell received the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Bert McGrane Award, which is presented annually to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/or the writing profession

He has significantly raised the profile of the NFF’s William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments, which recognizes the nation's top scholar-athlete, finding an official home for the trophy at the prestigious and historic New York Athletic Club. He also worked with College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock to make sure that the recipient of the trophy is recognized each year on the field during the national title game.

Hatchell's vision and leadership led to the launch of the NFF "Football Matters" campaign, which includes the digital platform and a series of public service announcements (“I’m a Football Player” and “I’m a Football Mom”) that highlight the positive and lifelong impact that football has had on those who play the game. Millions of people have been exposed to the campaign with the TV spots airing on ESPN, the NFL Network, FOX Sports Southwest and countless college and university jumbotrons across the country.

Hatchell has assembled and engaged one of the most powerful non-profit boards in the country that includes 27 corporate CEOs, four athletics directors, four conference commissioners and the executive directors emeritus of the American Football Coaches Association and executive director of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. He has also cemented several key sponsorship deals with blue chip companies, including Fidelity Investments and Under Armour, to support the NFF's many programs.

A career sports administrator, Hatchell joined the NFF after serving for six years as the commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). Prior to the PRCA, he served as the first commissioner of the Big 12 Conference in Dallas, an entity he helped establish in 1995. While with the Big 12, Hatchell played a key role in negotiating the television contracts and bowl game formula that would make the conference one of the strongest in the nation today.

During his time at the Big 12, he also served as the first chairman of the Power of One/NCAA Football Committee, a collegiate promotional initiative to combine the marketing resources of collegiate sports into a unified force. He was chairman of the Football Bowl Association for six years.

From 1987-93, Hatchell headed the Orange Bowl as its executive director, landing Fed Ex as its title sponsor, a landmark relationship at the time. He was director of sports information for the University of Colorado from 1976-77 before leaving to become an associate commissioner of the Big 8 Conference from 1977-83. He left to become the commissioner at the age of 33 of the Metropolitan Collegiate Athletic Conference, a post he held from 1983-87. After his time at the Orange Bowl in 1993, he began a three-year stint as the commissioner of the Southwest Conference.

Hatchell has also served on several U.S. Olympic Committee boards and as part of the staff for three Olympic games. He graduated with a journalism degree in 1970 from the University of Colorado. He is married and has two sons, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

The April 2 event will also recognize the best high school and collegiate student-athletes in North Texas and distribute a number of scholarships. Award-winning sportscaster Scott Murray will serve as the evening's emcee for the ninth consecutive year. The event will also provide the stage for the presentation of several other awards, including the Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award; the Steve Storie Official of the Year Award; the Legends Award to a former athletics director or coach who has made significant contributions to the game; and the high school coach of the year honors.

The club's awards committee will announce the additional honorees in the near future. For more information on tickets and/or banquet sponsorship opportunities, please contact club president Gerald Brence at 469-878-5370 or via email at

The NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas is one of 120 nationwide chapters of the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame. The NFF is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame, the NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF High School Showcases, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society and scholarships of more than $1.3 million for college and high school scholar-athletes.

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