Gene Smith deserves praise for all he's done for Ohio State over the years

Gene Smith retires at the end of the month from being Ohio State's athletic director. He deserves praise for all that he was able to do in his career.
Apr 18, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State University athletic director Gene Smith will retire at the end of June.
Apr 18, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State University athletic director Gene Smith will retire at the end of June. / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

Ohio State has one of the most successful athletic departments in the country. They have the most Division I sports in the country and they do a lot of winning. The Buckeyes win a lot of national championships in a lot of different sports. A lot of that is thanks to Gene Smith.

Smith took over the Ohio State athletic director back in 2005 for Andy Geiger. Geiger had a lot of bad moves as AD and Gordon Gee was looking to make a better hire. He took in Smith, who had been the AD at Arizona State prior to that for six years.

Over the years, Smith has made a lot of great hires. For the Ohio State football team, he was responsible for hiring Urban Meyer. He won a national championship for the Buckeyes. Ryan Day was his hire too and we're still waiting to see how that ends. This year is massive for him.

On the basketball side, he gave Thad Matta all of the resources he needed to make multiple Final Fours and a National Championship Game. He also hired Kevin McGuff as the Ohio State women's basketball coach and he has been outstanding for that program.

The Ohio State women's hockey team has been one of the best programs in the country under his watch. The synchronized swimming team keeps winning national titles. Smith also hired Tom Ryan as the wrestling coach and he won a national championship as well.

Of course, Smith hasn't gotten everything right in his tenure. He gave Chris Holtmann an unnecessary contract extension and had to pay an onerous buyout to him when he fired him in February. He also decided not to take a bowl ban in 2011 when the Ohio State football team was bad.

Instead, Ohio State had to take the ban in 2012. That cost them a chance to play for a national championship. That was by far his worst move as AD. Still, the good far outweighs the bad. He was an instrumental figure in conference realignment and making sure that Ohio State is in a good spot in the Big Ten every time a new program joins the conference.


Smith has a lot to smile about in his final weeks as AD now that he retires at the end of the month. He's earned it.