Gene Smith named 50th James J. Corbett Memorial Award recipient
The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced today that NACDA Past President and Ohio State Vice President and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director Gene Smith has been selected by the NACDA Officers and Executive Committee to be the recipient of the 50th James J. Corbett Memorial Award, the highest honor one can achieve in collegiate athletics administration. Smith served as NACDA president in 1994-95. He will be honored at the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon on June 15 in conjunction with the 2016 NACDA Convention in Dallas, Texas.
“It is with great pride that we present Gene Smith with this year’s James J. Corbett Award,” said NACDA Executive Director Bob Vecchione. “From his days as a student-athlete, Gene has honed his skills and become a bona fide leader in intercollegiate athletics. To this day, despite his hectic schedule and numerous responsibilities at Ohio State, Gene continues to support NACDA and its many initiatives and has become a driving force behind the John McLendon Foundation.”
The Corbett Award is presented annually to the collegiate administrator who "through the years has most typified Corbett's devotion to intercollegiate athletics and worked unceasingly for its betterment." Corbett, athletics director at Louisiana State University, was NACDA's first president in 1965. Additionally, Smith will receive an honorary degree from the Sports Management Institute (SMI), an educational institute sponsored by NACDA and the universities of Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Southern California and Texas.
“I am both honored and humbled to receive an award named for James Corbett from an organization as highly regarded as NACDA,” said Smith. “After my first year in athletics administration, Mike Cleary reached out to engage me in NACDA. I would not be where I am today if not for Mike, NACDA, and the many colleagues from whom I have been blessed to learn over the past 33 years."
Smith has been the athletics director at Ohio State since 2005, and was elevated to vice president and director of athletics in January 2014. He oversees one of the nation’s most comprehensive and most successful collegiate athletics programs. Under Smith's leadership, the Ohio State athletics department has thrived, winning a myriad of conference and national, individual and team, athletic championships and awards. Concurrent to athletics excellence has been the remarkable academic achievement by student-athletes during Smith's tenure. Smith's focus on academics - higher individual and team goals, additional academic support services, and recognition of excellence - has shifted the department's culture to reflect his philosophical focus on the total student-athlete.
In 2007, he served as president of the Division 1-A Athletic Directors Association. He also served on the Basketball Academic Enhancement Group, a 27-member panel charged with developing strategies to enhance academic performance and graduation rates in Division I men's basketball.
In addition to being a NACDA past president, he also has served on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee for five years (serving as chair in 2010-11), the NCAA Management Council, the NCAA Committee on Infractions, the NCAA Executive Committee, the NCAA Football Rules Committee, the President's Commission Liaison Committee, the NCAA Baseball Academic Enhancement Task Force and the National Football Foundation Honors Court, among others.
In June 2015, Smith was added to the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium as a member of the CARE Consortium Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). The board helps provide input relative to the understanding of concussion-related issues. He also currently serves on the NCAA Men's Basketball Oversight Committee (2015-18).
Prior to his time at Ohio State, Smith served as director of athletics at Arizona State, Iowa State and Eastern Michigan. A Cleveland, Ohio, native, Smith 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 and his wife, Sheila, have four children, Matt, Nicole, Lindsey and Summer, and six grandchildren.