Gene Smith is in his 12th year as director of athletics at The Ohio State University. He is widely recognized among the leaders of his profession and has been named “one of the most powerful people in collegiate sport.” Smith was named the Buckeyes’ director of athletics March 5, 2005 and was elevated to senior vice president and Wolfe Foundation endowed athletics director in May of 2016.
Smith is the eighth person to hold the athletics director position at Ohio State. He previously served as director of athletics at Arizona State, Iowa State and Eastern Michigan universities and is entering his 32nd year in the role.
At Ohio State, the 60-year old Smith oversees the nation’s most comprehensive and one of its most successful collegiate athletic programs. The department sponsors 36 fully-funded varsity sports with more than 1.000 student-athletes competing for Big Ten Conference and NCAA championships. Under Smith’s leadership, the Ohio State athletics department has thrived, winning myriad conference and national, individual and team, athletic championships and awards. In 2015, Forbes recognized the Ohio State Athletics Department as one of the ten best organizations to work for in sports. Smith is credited with creating a collaborative culture within the department, as Forbes cited it for having “developed an incredible reputation in the industry for the positive way they treat their employees.”
Smith is a past winner of the National Association for Athletics Compliance Award, the Carl Maddox Sports Management Award, and the Sport Business Journal Athletic Director of the Year Award. In June 2008 he was named to NACDA’s inaugural “Legends Class” and was also named Athletic Director of the Year by the Black Coaches Association.
Smith has an exemplary record of national leadership and service and is a sought after speaker on national athletic issues. Currently, Smith serves on the newly constituted NCAA Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee (2015-18). In June of 2015 Smith was added to the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium as a member of the CARE Consortium Scientific Advisory Board. The board will help provide input into the understanding of concussion-related issues.
From May 2011 – July 2014, Smith served as a member of the NCAA Division I Administrative Cabinet. He completed his fifth year on the prestigious NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee in 2011, having served as chair for the 2010-11 academic year. In 2007, Smith served as president of the Division 1- A Athletic Directors Association. He also served on the Basketball Academic Enhancement Group.
Smith is past president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. He also has served on the NCAA Management Council, NCAA Committee on Infractions, NCAA Executive Committee, NCAA Football Rules Committee, President’s Commission Liaison Committee, NCAA Baseball Academic Enhancement Task Force and National Football Foundation Honors Court, among others.
Smith grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended the University of Notre Dame on a football scholarship. He played four years of football as a defensive end for the Irish and was a member of the 1973 Associated Press national championship team.
Smith received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Notre Dame in 1977. Following graduation, he joined the Notre Dame coaching staff under Dan Devine and remained in that capacity until 1981. The 1977 Notre Dame team captured the undisputed national championship. Smith has the unique distinction of winning national championships in football as a student-athlete, coach, and athletics director.
Smith is active in the Columbus community. He is a member of the Columbus Sports Commission and the governing board of trustees of the Lincoln Theater Association. In June of 2016, he was named a trustee of the Board of the Columbus Museum of Art. In addition, Smith and his wife, Sheila, support numerous community charities. On campus, Smith is active with the Bell Center for African-American males, where for 10 years he has sponsored a mentoring program.
Gene and Sheila have four children: Matt, Nicole, Lindsey and Summer, and six grandchildren: Marshall, Steele, Addison, Grayson, Tyson and Elijah.