SPOKANE — Big Sky Conference Commissioner Andrea Williams has been named the Chief Operating Officer of the College Football Playoff, according to a news release sent out on Tuesday morning by the CFP.
“Words cannot begin to express my gratitude to the Big Sky Conference,” Williams said in a news release sent out by the league. “Since joining the league in 2016, the experience has exceeded every expectation both professionally and personally.
"The leadership of our presidents, administrators, faculty and coaches set the expectation of what it means to work in college athletics. A special thank you to the student-athletes who embody how to excel in the classroom and in competition – that display poise, humility and confidence. You are our future leaders and we are in good hands.”
Williams has been the Big Sky's Commissioner since April 2016 after being hired to replace Doug Fullerton.
"She's a great administrator. She's done some really great things for the Big Sky Conference. It's been fun to get to know her," Montana's Athletic Director Kent Haslam told 406mtsports.com on Tuesday morning. "... I'm excited for her. This opportunity sounds like a great one for her.
"You figured she would be someone who would get some really great opportunities. When she was hired I remember thinking she would have a chance to some other things in college athletics and this certainly is a great opportunity, that's for sure."
Montana State's Athletic Director Leon Costello, who was hired at MSU in May of 2016, echoed Haslam's sentiment.
"We came in right around the same time. I was able to develop a really good relationship with her," Costello told 406mtsports.com. "I think, from my standpoint, finishing the strategic plan for the conference and really identifying some of the goals that we wanted to accomplish as a conference was a major accomplishment because it got all of the universities to work together toward accomplishing those common goals and really putting the best foot forward for the Big Sky Conference.
"One of her major accomplishments was the focus she put on student-athlete well-being and taking care of student-athletes and what that means. Just recently, the serious misconduct policy and steps like that. At every spring meeting we have the well-being summit where we bring in speakers to talk about certain aspects of the student-athlete experience and how we can make it better for them.
"Those are the things I'm really going to take from her is really setting that vision with the strategic plan and really her focus and emphasis on student-athletes."
In her new role at the College Football Playoff, Williams will manage the national championship game and all of its affiliated events. She will work as 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.
"I'm incredibly humbled to be selected as the CFP's chief operating officer," Williams said in the CFP news release. "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."
Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff believes Williams is a great asset to the College Football Playoff.
"Andrea has all the tools," Hancock said in the CFP 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 addition to her two statements, Williams has shared additional sentiments to people who've congratulated her on the new job.
In a reply to Voice of the Grizzlies Riley Corcoran, Williams tweeted, "Going to miss this incredible league." And in a reply to Voice of the Lumberjacks Mitch Strohman, Williams wrote, "I was the lucky one to be a part of such a special conference."
Williams told 406mtsports.com that she has not yet decided when her last day with the Big Sky Conference will be, though she said her start date in Dallas with the CFP is August 13. The news release sent out by the Big Sky on Tuesday evening did not name an interim commissioner.
Before leading the Big Sky, Williams was the associate commissioner of the Big Ten Conference for 10 years and directed the league's championship football game and the men's and women's basketball tournaments.
Williams is an alumna of Texas A&M, where she played volleyball and basketball. She earned a Master's in sport administration from Ohio University.
Greg Rachac of the Billings Gazette contributed to this story.