COLUMBUS — Gene Smith had already shot down interest in leaving Ohio State.
Now the Buckeyes athletic director has made it even clear that he has no intention of leaving his post anytime soon.
The school confirmed on Wednesday that a new four-year extension had been agreed to with Smith, a deal that was signed in March and was set for approval this week by the school’s board of trustees. Smith still had one year left on his current contract, but once the resolution is formally approved he will be set to lead the Buckeyes until 2026.
Smith has consistently been praised by his peers nationally as one of the best athletic directors in the country, earning him various leadership roles with the NCAA, helping establish a pipeline of proteges taking top jobs around the country — and putting him in the mix as a candidate for the PAC-12 commission job. More recently, he was critical for Ohio State and the Big Ten while dealing with the challenges of COVID, balancing health and safety with the need to establish return-to-play protocols for sports that were nearly cancelled completely.
“What Gene Smith has meant to me and my family, forget it — I could talk about it forever,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “Heâ€™s been unbelievable. Heâ€™s been really strong for us during this last year, just the way heâ€™s led has been tremendous. I learned so much.
“Some of the best stuff is like a couple days before a big game heâ€™ll just sit in my office and talk to me for 20 minutes and it just gives me the confidence to go do my job. Heâ€™s been unbelievable, not only to me but everybody here in the department. And his leadership has been unwavering this past year and probably some of his best work, I would think. Not trying to speak out of school, but heâ€™s done a tremendous job. Love him.”
That relationship with the Buckeyes coaches and Smith will continue for half a decade at least, and he will earn a base salary of $1.58 million per year per the terms of the contract released to Lettermen Row.
Gene Smith is showing no signs of slowing down in his prominent role with arguably the most powerful athletic department in the country. And he’s put it down in ink that he has no intentions of leaving.