05:53 AM

Trustees approve new contract for Athletics Director Gene Smith that emphasizes student-athlete academic performance, career success

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State University Board of Trustees today approved a new contract for Vice President and Director of Athletics Gene Smith that emphasizes student-athletes’ academic performance and career development.

Under the contract, effective Feb. 1, 2015, through June 30, 2020, Smith will earn bonuses for exceptional academic performance by student-athletes as reflected in the annual cumulative grade point averages for all sports teams and the percentage of athletes who are designated as scholar-athletes.

Beginning in the spring of 2016, Smith will also be eligible for supplemental compensation based on the annual percentage of student-athletes who, after graduation, are employed in a position for which a college degree is required, are in the military or are pursuing additional training or education.

The contract eliminates bonuses for all conference championships – both team and individual – except for those team championships and other post-season milestones achieved in football and basketball, as well as for a top-10 Directors’ Cup ranking.

These changes do not increase the total compensation for Smith. His total bonus earnings in a single contract year cannot exceed $130,000. His annual base salary remains $959,263. His compensation is paid entirely through athletics department revenues, using no tuition or tax dollars.

“Our athletics program’s reputation for excellence is attributable to Gene Smith’s extraordinary leadership,” said Ohio State President Michael V. Drake. “This shift in focus represents our commitment to academic excellence and supporting our athletes’ future career success. We are dedicated to ensuring that our student-athletes’ accomplishments in life extend well beyond graduation.”

Smith joined Ohio State as athletics director in March 2005, and a year ago, he was named vice president in addition to those duties. With that promotion, Smith took on joint oversight responsibility with the Office of Business and Finance for the Business Advancement Division of Ohio State, encompassing the Jerome Schottenstein Center, Blackwell Inn, Drake Performance and Event Center, Fawcett Center and the Office of Trademark and Licensing Services. He is also responsible for the Nationwide Arena Management agreement and shares oversight of the university’s affinity agreements.

Ohio State is recognized across the country as a leader in collegiate athletics, with nearly 1,000 student-athletes participating on 36 Ohio State athletics teams. Smith has fostered an appreciation for life-long learning among student-athletes, who have a record of academic success under his direction. Ohio State student-athletes’ NCAA Graduation Success Rate improved from 61 percent in 2005-06 to 89 percent in October 2013, and more than 80 athletes who departed early have returned to Ohio State to graduate from the Degree Completion Program during his tenure as director.

“I have spent my career supporting student-athletes in pursuing excellence both on and off the field,” Smith said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve at this outstanding university, where we all work together to create an environment that supports academic excellence and athletic achievement.”

The athletics department is completely self-supporting; it receives no state tax or student tuition dollars. In fiscal year 2013, the department transferred nearly $30 million in assessments to the university, including more than $16 million in grant-in-aid reimbursement.