NFF High School Academic Achievement Award named for CU’s Hatchell

Steve Hatchell speaking at the 2021 NFF Hall of Fame Induction Dinner.


David Plati, Associate DA/Sports Information

Hatchell Cup Trophy to honor the best prep football team for combined excellence on and off the pitch

IRVING, TX – The National Football Foundation (NFF) and the College Hall of Fame announced last week that the annual recipient of the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award will receive the NFF Hatchell Cup trophy. The honor is named after the current President and CEO of the NFF Steve Hatchel in recognition of his longstanding leadership and service to the NFF and his commitment to improving the game of football.

Hatchell graduated from the University of Colorado in 1970, having worked in the school’s equipment office and having been editor of the CU yearbook. He began his athletics career as an assistant to then-UC Athletic Director, the late Eddie Crowder. He was eventually named co-director of sports information before leaving CU for the Big Eight Conference, Orange Bowl, Southwest Conference, Big 12 Conference and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association positions before to assume his current position in 2006.

“Over the past 17 years, no one has worked harder or more tirelessly to promote the ideal of the college athlete than Steve Hatchell,” said the NFF President. Archie Manning. “Steve has been a force in college athletics since the early 1970s, and naming this award in his honor honors his vision and leadership as a protector of the game and a passionate advocate by highlighting our sport’s ability to inspire excellence in the classroom.”

The NFF announced the creation of the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Awards in 2021, with the state high school coaching associations of Nebraska and Texas leading the initial effort. The initiative is designed to inspire and foster a culture of academic excellence in high school football teams across the country.

In February, Cypress Woods High School in Cypress, Texas was announced as the top team in the nation after being chosen from 62 teams selected as state recipients of the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Awards. All 62 teams were selected as the top academic winners in each division of play across 13 states. The inaugural presentation of the NFF Hatchell Cup trophy will take place on July 19 at the 2022 Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) Convention & Coaching School in San Antonio.

Steve Hatchell’s career in athletics administration spans more than five decades and includes countless accomplishments, including serving as the Big 12 Conference’s first commissioner in Dallas and serving in the most senior positions at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), the Southwest Conference, the Orange Bowl and the Metropolitan Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Since assuming the helm of the NFF in 2005, Hatchell has overseen numerous programs that expand the reach and impact of the NFF, particularly in the context of today’s announcement to promote the ideal of the college athlete.

These programs include: the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame, which has helped raise and distribute millions of dollars for NFF scholarship programs; the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which has honored 14,655 student-athletes since its inception in 2007; the NFF Faculty Salutes, presented by Fidelity Investments; and the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Awards, with the top prize now named after him as the Hatchell Cup.

Hatchell has significantly raised the profile of the NFF William V. Campbell Trophy®, which recognizes the nation’s top college athlete, by finding an official home for the trophy at the prestigious and historic New York Athletic Club. He also worked with the College Football Playoff leadership to ensure the recipient of the trophy is recognized on the field each year during the national title game, and he spearheaded the launch of the Campbell Trophy Summit, which takes place at Stanford University. in August.

Hatchell’s vision and leadership led to the launch of the NFF Future For Football campaign, which includes a strong social media presence and a series of public service announcements and video features that highlight the positive impact and permanent that football has had on those who play and support the game. Millions of people have been exposed to the campaign through television spots airing on ESPN, FOX, the NFL Network, Bally Sports Regional Networks and countless jumbotrons colleges and universities across the country.

Hatchell has been honored several times for his leadership. Pop Warner Little Scholars presented him with the Warner Award in 2014 as someone who has achieved excellence in athletics, scholarship, and life endeavors with integrity and humanity. The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) named him the 2015 recipient of the FWAA Bert McGrane Award for his contributions to the coverage of college football and his advocacy on behalf of those who cover the sport. Also in 2015, he won a NACDA Golden Anniversary Award, representing the NFF and its efforts to sustain the organization through its first 50 years. He was named a 2018 Class Member of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame, recognizing his many contributions to the sports information profession.

A graduate of the University of Colorado, Hatchell was inducted into the University of Colorado Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017, and he received an honorary award from the university’s C Club in 1983.

For more information on the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award, the Hatchell Cup, or to find out how your state high school coaching association can get involved next season, please contact the NFF at [email protected]

ABOUT The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Founded in 1947 under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a nonprofit educational organization that operates programs designed to harness the power of amateur football in the development of scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters in 47 states, NFF programs include the selection and induction of members of the College Football Hall of Fame; the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta; future for football; The William V. Campbell® Trophy; the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class presented by Fidelity Investments; the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Awards; and a series of initiatives to honor the legends of the past and inspire the leaders of the future. NFF corporate partners include Catapult, Delta Air Lines, Fidelity Investments, Jostens, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, New York Athletic Club, Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation and Sports Business Journal. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork and learn more at

The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame

Preserving the past, promoting the present, preparing for the future and protecting the game through programs and initiatives that support

• 774 colleges and universities • Over 81,000 college football players

• 15,810 high schools • Over 1.04 million high school football players

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