July 25, 2024

Sad News: about a minute ago, Gene Smith dies in a car crash at p…

Gene Smith, Ohio State’s athletic director, leaves after 19 years.

COLUMBUS: Friday was Gene Smith’s last day as Ohio State University’s athletic director after 19 years in the position.

According to a statement from Smith on the Ohio State Athletics website, “We are grateful for your continuous support of our student-athletes, coaches, and support staff.” “I have enjoyed and been honored to be your athletic director for the past nineteen years.

“We have all had incredible experiences from our sporting events, concerts, and other gatherings held in our athletic facilities. We appreciate you sharing your enthusiasm and dedication, which helped our student-athletes succeed both on and off the field.

“I am incredibly proud of the academic and competitive achievements of our student-athletes. They’ve raised the bar for all upcoming Buckeyes to meet. I’m excited to help our teams in the upcoming years, Sheila. They will always hold a special place in our hearts, even though we will be a little further away.

For Smith, who had announced his resignation with effect from June 30, 2024, back in August of 2023, Friday had been a long time coming.

Smith stated he wanted the future president to have their own athletic director in the building as Kristina Johnson, the then-president of Ohio State, will be leaving at the end of the 2022–2023 academic year.

“I firmly feel that this presidential transition, which will be extremely beneficial — whoever takes office — it provides her or him the chance to select their leader and launch a campaign that builds upon the work that these coaches, staff, and student-athletes have already done,” he declared in August 2023.

On August 22, 2023, Ted Carter Jr. was chosen by the Board of Trustees to serve as The Ohio State University’s 17th president. This past February, Ohio State trustees approved Ross Bjork as Smith’s replacement.

Smith stated that although he and his wife Sheila intend to retire to Arizona, they won’t suddenly fade into obscurity. Smith was selected in April to serve as the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors’ chair-elect. During his two-year tenure, he will be involved in the inaugural seasons of the new 12-team College Football Playoff.

In October, he will be present at the Buckeyes’ home game versus Iowa as well as the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame induction that same weekend.

Smith held the third-longest tenure of any athletic director in Ohio State history, ranking eighth overall. Ohio State teams won 115 Big Ten crowns and 35 national championships during his tenure, including 12 NCAA titles. In 2014, the football team from Ohio State became the first-ever national champions and College Football Playoff winners.

When asked what Smith meant to the university, Ohio State football coach Ryan Day responded, “Two decades, over 1,000 athletes, 36 sports year in and year out, the impact he made on all of those student-athletes,” to the Big Ten Network earlier this month. “I believe the influence he had at Ohio State, the advice he gave, and the difference he made on the coaches and staff, especially me and my career. The victories, defeats, and titles he has shared undoubtedly speak for themselves, but the impact was more important to me.

“He’s been in the vanguard of all that, with his colleagues in the Big Ten, working through obstacles, and the impact he had on college athletics around the nation. Therefore, I believe he has had a significant impact not just on conferences but also on student-athletes across the nation.

 

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