Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Vanderbilt University announced Thursday that it was canceling its football program’s 2013 trip to Columbus to play Ohio State because of scheduling reasons.
OSU athletic director Gene Smith didn’t approve of the way Vanderbilt canceled the game – by letter – but he was promised an apology.
Dave Williams, Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director, said he takes full responsibility for informing Smith of the cancellation in a letter and plans to apologize.
“I apologize to (Smith) for that. I’m sorry that he’s disappointed. Gene’s a good friend and a good (athletic director) and I’m sorry it was handled that way,” Williams told The Lantern. “I take all of the blame for that.”
With less than a year until the teams’ originally scheduled Aug. 31, 2013, meeting at the Horseshoe, Smith and the OSU athletic department must seek a new opponent for the opening game of its 2013 season.
Vanderbilt was to receive $1.2 million for its visit to Ohio Stadium, but coach Urban Meyer’s first season in Columbus without a bowl ban will have to begin against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.
In a statement provided to The Lantern earlier on Thursday, Smith said the communication between the two schools could have been better.
“I am disappointed that we find ourselves in this position. I would have preferred a phone call from the administration at Vanderbilt,” Smith said in the statement. “Nevertheless, we will work diligently to find a replacement opponent for the 2013 season.”
Williams explained that the decision to inform OSU through a letter was a matter of record keeping.
“I do understand (Smith’s) disappointment and I apologize for that, but if you cancel something by phone, then you don’t have record for it,” Williams said. “It may just be my legal training that we cancel by paper. We make deals by letters and we cancel by letters. I understand his disappointment and it would have been nice if I talked more about it.
“That’s on me. That’s my bad and I apologize for that.”
Rod Williamson, Vanderbilt’s director for athletic communications, said the cancellation of the OSU-Vanderbilt fixture came about as a result of the need to accommodate the Southeastern Conference’s addition of Texas A&M and Missouri.
Vanderbilt also canceled its 2013 home game against Northwestern.
The cancellation of the OSU and Northwestern games were “casualties” of that process, Williamson said.
OSU’s current home schedule for the 2013 season includes Florida A&M (9/7), Buffalo (9/21), Wisconsin (9/28), Iowa (10/19), Penn State (10/26) and Indiana (11/23). The Buckeyes are scheduled to continue play in the 2012 season Saturday against Purdue at the Horseshoe. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.