Tech wrapped up its athletic director (AD) search in less than a month with the hiring of former University of Alabama Executive Deputy AD J Batt. After firing Head Football Coach Geoff Collins and Athletic Director Todd Stansbury on Sept. 26, Batt’s hiring was announced on Oct. 14, with his first day in the new role set for Oct. 24. Batt takes over from Frank Neville, who handled AD duties in an interim role.
Batt handled a range of duties at Alabama, including chief revenue officer and chief operating officer roles for the Tide. He was also the main executive overseeing the men’s basketball team, which has three NCAA Tournament appearances since Batt’s tenure began in 2017 and an SEC title and Sweet 16 appearance in 2021.
Fundraising and revenue generation are two of Batt’s strengths and are skills that will benefit Tech greatly during his tenure. Tech Athletics’ financial woes are no secret, and with a large buyout looming for Collins following his firing, Batt will need to remedy those woes quickly. Projects totaling a reported $125 million, including the Edge Center’s renovation, are set to begin soon.
Batt’s quick hiring comes in part from Tech President Ángel Cabrera’s desire for a candidate to have a significant portion of the football season remaining to analyze potential head coach hires. Names like Coastal Carolina Head Coach Jamey Chadwell and Alabama Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien have been floated as options, and O’Brien’s shared connection with Batt may be of note in the coming months.
Batt is no stranger to the ACC, having played soccer at UNC and serving as Maryland’s associate AD before their move to the Big Ten.
He has more limited football experience than other front-runners for the role, but his time at Alabama, arguably the nation’s premiere program, should give him insight as to what makes a good coach and program.
Tech has had competitive-to-elite women’s basketball, volleyball, golf, softball and baseball programs among others in recent years, setting Batt up for success in sports outside of football. Tech’s position in a multi-sport recruiting hotbed in Atlanta and Georgia as a whole further benefits the program. However, righting the ship financially and improving a football program that is far from its peak will be a challenge.
The head coaching search has a long list of attached names, including O’Brien and Chadwell. Chadwell is the coach at a Coastal Carolina program that has turned into a perennial Sun Belt contender, and he has led the team to 11 wins two years in a row.
O’Brien is Alabama’s offensive coordinator and was Penn State’s head coach for two years before leading the NFL’s Houston Texans to four division titles in six full seasons as a head coach.
Other names include Jackson State’s Deion Sanders, a former Atlanta Falcons legend who may be looking for a jump to the FBS level, Tulane head coach Willie Fritz who has the Green Wave ranked amid a fourth bowl-bound season in five years and current interim head coach Brent Key who has started 2-1 with a win over then-ranked Pittsburgh.
Batt will sort through these names and many more while working Tech Athletics out of a multi-million dollar deficit. His experience as a high-level fundraiser and exposure to the zenith of college football will help with these goals.