Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith says he will retire in 2024. Wednesday morning, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith announced his retirement at the end of the 2023-24 academic year.
Smith, who has led the athletic department of the Buckeyes since March 2005, will stand down on June 30, 2024.
Smith stated at a news conference on Wednesday, “I have always believed that a leader seeks to be the right person at the right time in the institution’s history.” “I believe July 2024 is the appropriate moment to welcome new leadership to build upon what we have accomplished and continue to build upon Ohio State’s great tradition of excellence in athletics and business advancement.
“I am forever grateful.”
University president Kristina Johnson announced in November that she would resign at the end of the 2022-23 academic year, and the university is still searching for her successor.
Smith, the eighth AD for Ohio State and the third-longest-serving AD in school history, desired to step down before selecting a permanent president so that the new leader could implement their vision for the department.
“I truly believe that this presidential change, which will be extremely positive — whoever they hire — will afford him or her the chance to hire a leader, make a run, and build on what these coaches, the staff, and the student-athletes have already accomplished,” he said.
Over the past year, Smith has been at the forefront of the Big Ten’s expansion efforts, culminating on Friday with the announcement that Oregon and Washington will join USC and UCLA in the Big Ten beginning next autumn.
Smith stated that Fox “brought new money to the table” for Oregon and Washington, while the figures in the media rights agreement with Fox, CBS, and NBC “stayed the same” for the existing schools in the conference.
Under Smith’s leadership, the Buckeyes have won 32 national championships, 117 national championships, and 115 team and 369 individual Big Ten championships.
When asked about his most significant challenges as department head, Smith responded, “2011 was hell.”Terrelle Pryor was one of five players suspended for the season’s first five games for selling memorabilia and receiving unlawful benefits from a tattoo parlor. Jim Tressel, who led the team to the 2002 BCS national championship, was ultimately fired, and Luke Fickell served as interim head coach before Urban Meyer was appointed in 2012.
“That was painful,” said Smith. “The affected student-athletes did not merit the penalties they had to endure. That was tough. People were negatively affected, and it was a difficult period.”
Years later, in July 2018, former wide receivers coach Zach Smith was dismissed following allegations of domestic violence. Gene Smith and Meyer were suspended in 2012 for neglecting issues during Zach Smith’s tenure with the program.
Smith, a native of Cleveland who played collegiate football at Notre Dame, was formerly the athletic director at Arizona State (2000-2005), Iowa State (1993-2000), and Eastern Michigan (1985-1993).