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Athletic director Gene Smith named Ohio State vice president, contract extended to 2020

Current vice president and athletic director Gene Smith at an interview with The Lantern Oct. 12, 2012. Lantern file photo

Current vice president and athletic director Gene Smith at an interview with The Lantern Oct. 12, 2012.
Credit: Lantern file photo

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has a new title and an updated contract.

Smith was named an OSU vice president and given a nearly 12 percent pay increase and four year contract extension, pending OSU Board of Trustees approval later this week, OSU Interim President Joseph Alutto announced Tuesday.

Smith’s contract is now set to expire June 30, 2020, and he will continue to report directly to the university president, according to an OSU press release.

His annual base salary is $940,484, effective July 1, 2013, though he will be eligible for “standard, university-wide merit based salary increases each year,” according to the release. Smith was paid about $840,484 in 2013, according to the Columbus Business First DataCenter.

The Lantern requested an interview with Alutto following the announcement, however, OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said Smith’s new role “will be voted on Friday (at the OSU Board of Trustees meeting) during the public session as with other personnel actions,” in an email.

Smith is set to have joint oversight responsibility with the Office of Business and Finance for OSU’s Business Advancement Division, which includes the Schottenstein Center, the Blackwell, Drake Performance and Event Center, the Fawcett Center and the Office of Trademark and Licensing Services.

Smith is also slated to have responsibility for the Nationwide Arena Management agreement to “increase existing revenue streams and pursue new revenue opportunities through creative collaboration and innovation,” and partner with Business and Finance for responsibility of the university’s affinity agreements, according to the release.

He said he is “grateful for the opportunity to lead the athletics program” at OSU in a released statement.

“Working with the coaches, athletics staff, faculty and staff across the university enables us to provide positive experiences for the young people we serve, while finding ways to help them become global citizens impacting the world,” Smith said. “Ohio State is an amazing institution and I am proud to be a Buckeye.”

Alutto said the contract extension, pay increase and additional title are a reflection of what Smith has done during his time at OSU, which began in 2005.

“Gene Smith is one of this country’s most accomplished collegiate athletics directors, with an exemplary record of national leadership and service,” Alutto said in a released statement. “Thanks to his dedication to student success, graduation success rate of Ohio State’s student-athletes have risen … to 89 percent.”

All OSU student-athletes had an NCAA graduation success rate of 89 percent in the most recent 2013 report, up from 61 percent in 2005-06, according to the release.

Of all NCAA Division I student-athletes who entered college in 2006, 82 percent earned their degrees, according to an NCAA release.

Smith is OSU’s eighth athletics director. He oversees 36 varsity sports, which more than 1,000 student-athletes participate in each year, according to the OSU release.

Smith oversaw OSU’s Department of Athletics during Tattoo-gate, a 2010 improper benefits scandal which led to five football players’ five-game suspensions and a sixth player’s one-game ban for selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits from the owner of a tattoo parlor. Former OSU coach Jim Tressel resigned in May 2011 in the wake of the scandal becoming public. Later, the NCAA banned OSU from postseason play in 2011 and sanctioned the program with a nine-year scholarship reduction over three years.

Also during Smith’s tenure, Buckeyes have earned a variety of accomplishments, including winning 10 team national championships, 60 individual national championships, eight national players of the year and producing 22 Olympians.

Smith has raised more than $400 million in partnership with the development staff during his time at OSU, according to the release.


  1. The man who tried to charge the OSU Marching Band RENT for Skeull Sessions? The man who is planning to tear down St. John Arena? The man who, in my opinion, threw Tressel far under the bus to keep his own hands clean? The man who wouldn’t self-impose a bowl ban when the Tatoo Scandal players were still playing to hopefully pre-empt the NCAA ban that came the next year when all of the guilty ones had bailed out? Yeah- a great leader. My fear is that this is just a temporary position and they plan to move him up to the Presidency.

  2. Miriam,
    You took the words right out of my mouth. This is one of the reasons that I do not contribute to my alma mater. Sounds like the “good ol’boy club” to me. Bring back Ed Jennings and Rick Bay.

  3. I agree with this decision because I will never forget the day someone talked me into sending my child to Ohio State (my focus was a GREAT edu)!!!! I will never forget the day my child called me and said “OMG they’re showing that documentary we did years ago at Ohio State. My teammate recognized me!!” Now I have a buckeye grad and even last night my child was saying how much working with schoolmates is sorely missed. Congrats Gene….I have no regrets…….

  4. alumni life member

    This is batsht insane. Boy wonder has been a witness to the ugly side of osu athletics since the seventies. New blood please! My contributions to the athletic, I mean alumni club ends now.

  5. Another Alumni Assoc Life Member

    Elwood Gorgy Gee, Ph.D.’s character(s) and values and footprints emblazoned all over this greedy, Machiavellian “order of business”. Mr. Alutto and OSU’s Board of Trustees ARE foremost figureheads for Gee’s corporate titan and Republican political axis.
    Ya’ just can’t keep doin’ the same thing over and over again and expect different results.
    Especially, given the truth, it IS about The Journey…

  6. If Smith didn’t know about the problems in HIS athletic dept he should have been fired. If he did and did nothing except pass it on to others, he should have been fired. THE university is definitely heading in the wrong direction, that is very sad for the university and state of Ohio.

  7. My brain just exploded with confusion.
    Remind me again why he’s even still -at- OSU?

  8. Everyone here is in agreement that this is a terrible decision. Let me add another aspect to this: Smith is getting a 12% bonus… the regular staff of this university is slated to get a 1/2% raise this September… one half of one percent. That equals about 8 cents/hour for most employees. That doesn’t even cover the increase in the cost of living! And this royal piece of work gets 12%!

    The slaves of OSU continue to get further behind while Gee’s cronies continue to rake in maximum profits. Every department is suffering budget crunches while he rolls in money. OSU is truly a microcosm of American society.

  9. I couldn’t agree with Anon more. We are getting screwed (the staff of this great University). A 12% raise for him? My last raise was $7.00 a week take-home and I make over $40K a year.

  10. Oh, and I had an EXCELLENT review too.

  11. And this is why we need our student trustees to have voting priveleges on the Board.

  12. both this decision and that of the Trustees’ choice of the new President are baffling to me. OSU is getting a 1/2 medical, 1/2 athletics focused President and a former athletics director as a VP, choices which seem to clearly indicate the University’s new focus: money. The medical center is OSU’s cash cow followed closely by Athletics (read: football) but neither represent OSU’s ‘mission’ of diversity, global reach and – wait for it – education. I smell a heavy Wexner hand in this decision but i guess the Trustees’ owed him since he donated $200 million. The underlying message: OSU is for sale and your education is a side effect of your tuition dollars.

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