Payne was born in Victor, New York. He attended college at the University of Pittsburgh where he earned his undergraduate degree in Finance as well as an MBA. He was an All-American wrestler. He did not play rugby in his youth, but discovered rugby in 2001 while living in New York and went on to play for Old Blue. Payne then moved to San Diego where he played for the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC) as a number eight. He made his international debut against Scotland in the 2007 Churchill Cup. He also played in the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Payne coached for several years at San Diego State University before becoming head coach at Life University in 2009, which has been one of the strongest teams in college rugby since Life's undergraduate rugby program was created in 2009. Payne was promoted in 2014 to Athletics Director while still retaining his role as Director of Rugby. He also served as an assistant coach for the Eagles under Eddie O'Sullivan during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Payne was hired as Chief Executive Officer for USA Rugby with his tenure beginning August 1, 2016.