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Gene Smith: Gee has been supportive

Thomas Bradley/Campus Editor

Ohio State athletic director and associate vice president Gene Smith isn’t worried about losing his job.

Just hours after learning that the OSU program had received a postseason ban for the 2012 season and would lose nine scholarships due to violations dating back to December 2010, Smith told The Lantern Tuesday that he isn’t worried about his job security, but said he realizes being fired is still a possibility.

“Fortunately, my leader, my president has been very supportive,” Smith said in reference to OSU President E. Gordon Gee. “Obviously, he can change his mind and make a different decision. But even today, he was very supportive. Every day I wake up and I work hard and do the right thing. Could I have done things better, like anybody in hindsight 20/20? No question.”

Gee told reporters during halftime of Tuesday’s game that he was “disappointed” in the NCAA’s ruling said he continues to support Smith.

Smith said his initial reaction to the NCAA’s punishment as “angry” when he found out about the news at 7:48 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

“Our penalty structure for violations should not damage young people who have nothing to do with it. In our situation, the guys who committed the infractions, they’re going to be gone,” he said. “Now, we’re penalizing kids for the future and that doesn’t make sense to me.”

“I just felt like the young people in our program didn’t deserve a postseason ban. They didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “If you want to penalize the institution, penalize the institution — cash, television, whatever.”

The post-season ban is effective following the 2012 regular season. As a result of the ban, OSU will not be eligible to play in the 2012 Big Ten Football Championship Game. OSU will still participate as scheduled in the Gator Bowl against the University of Florida Jan. 2, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla.

OSU had previously self-imposed a reduction of five scholarships over three years, but the NCAA cut an additional four scholarships over the same time frame.

Additionally, the Buckeye football program will face three years of probation, one more than the school had self-imposed.

Smith also said he met with new head coach Urban Meyer Tuesday. He said the two discussed moving forward and what the program must do in the future to prevent similar situations from occurring.

“It is still my goal to hire excellent coaches, recruit great student-athletes who want to be a part of this program and to win on and off the field,” Meyer said in a statement Tuesday. “The NCAA penalties will serve as a reminder that the college experience does not include the behavior that led to these penalties.

“I expect all of us to work hard to teach and develop young student-athletes to grow responsibly and to become productive citizens in their communities upon graduation.”

Smith said the university has to be more watchful and must continue to educate the players.

“We have to continue to educate our kids,” Smith said. “We have so many people who try to infiltrate the organization, to get close to the players for their own personal gain. We have to be more diligent in that regard.

“When you’re in the position we’re in, you have to look at the adversity in front of you.”

Despite the loss of next year’s postseason, Smith said there is a positive to take away from the situation.

“This is their final report and this is closure.”

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