Current Ohio State University Athletic Director Gene Smith announced on Wednesday that he will be retiring at the end of the 2023-2024 collegiate athletic season. After two decades of leadership, which included steering the ship of one of the largest athletic departments in the United States through some troubled waters, Smith will enjoy one final year at the helm. But who will be the next captain?
There are several qualified candidates who have Ohio State and Gene Smith ties, which Frank Teriaca wrote about in his most recent article. Smith admitted during his press conference, that the decision will not be his. The decision will lie with the next University President, as long as one is chosen and in place before Smith steps down.
"“It depends on the person and how my connection with them occurs. It would be easy to talk about characteristics, but I’m not going to strap them with the burden of a name unless they ask me or provide me that opportunity. They need to make their own decision.”"
A lot of Buckeye fans on social media are talking about former Ohio State football coaches Jim Tressel or Urban Meyer coming back to the University to fill the soon to be vacant position. I seriously doubt either man would be interested in the position. Tressel just recently retired from his post as President of Youngstown State. Meyer will be resuming his role with FOX on Big Noon Kickoff.
One possible candidate’s name that keeps coming up is Pat Chun.
Chun, an Ohio native, currently serves as the AD at the Washington State University where he has been for the past six years. Chun attended and graduated from the Ohio State University before pursuing his master’s degree from Duquesne University. Upon graduation, Chun returned to Ohio State where he performed different jobs within the athletic department for 15 years.
Chun is considered by many to be Smith’s greatest pupil. He rose throughout the athletic department at Ohio State to become executive associate athletic director, assisting Smith in day-to-day AD tasks, including fundraising, which has been the bread and butter for the OSU AD outside of firing and hiring coaches for all 36 athletic programs and teams.
Several prominent former Buckeyes have already made it known that Chun would be their choice to replace Smith next July including local sports host Bobby Carpenter.
Chun’s first AD position was with Florida Atlantic University where he spent five and a half years before filling the same position with Washington State University in 2017, making him the first Asian American athletic director at a Poer Five school. In 2021, along with his duties as AD for the Cougars, he was appointed by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics’ to be their Vice President. His current contract with Washington State is through the 2026 season.
Chun is the most experienced and accomplished AD on this list of names that many have mentioned as a possible replacement. He might also be the safest bet for who can continue the current success athletically for Ohio State.