Tuesday afternoon Gene Smith, director of athletics at Ohio State since 2005, removed his name from consideration for the vacant AD job at Notre Dame, his alma mater.
The 52-year-old Smith announced via a university press release Tuesday afternoon that he will remain at Ohio State and is not a candidate to replace Kevin White, who recently resigned the Notre Dame job to take the same position at Duke.
“I have the utmost respect for Notre Dame and great admiration for the university and its athletics department, but I will not be a candidate for the job there,” Smith said in the release. “I am very happy being at the Ohio State University and am excited about its new leadership of the university. I am thrilled with the direction we are going in the department and am pleased and thankful for the support of President Gee and the administration.”
Smith’s potential candidacy made for message board fodder beginning almost immediately after White announced his move, and several news outlets included Smith’s name in hypothetical lists of replacements, but Smith himself said Tuesday that Notre Dame has not contacted him about the job.
“I am honored that many consider me to be a candidate, but I have no desire to leave Ohio State,” he said.
Smith graduated from Notre Dame in 1977 and contributed to two national championship teams. He was a player on the 1973 squad and an assistant coach in ’77. He served as an assistant in South Bend until 1981.
At Ohio State, Smith oversees a completely self-funded department with 36 fully-funded varsity sports, more than 900 student-athletes and an annual budget of nearly $110 million
Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee, who recently named Smith an assistant vice president of the university, greeted the news warmly, as did head football coach Jim Tressel and men’s basketball mentor Thad Matta.
“Ohio State not only has the nation’s most comprehensive athletics program, but also one that is thoroughly integrated into the larger academic life of the University,” Gee said in the release. “Gene Smith is a key factor in our students’ successes both on the playing field and in the classroom, and I am delighted with his commitment to remain here at Ohio State.”
Tressel called Smith the finest athletics director in America.
“We are so happy that he will remain at Ohio State,” Tressel said. “He cares about every student-athlete, every coach and staff member, and the entire Buckeye Nation. This is a great day for all of us.”
Matta attributed much of the overall success of the department, which ranked third in the most recently released standings of the 2008 Division I U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup.
“We here in the men’s basketball program are thankful for the support Gene has given us and are we are extremely pleased he will be staying at Ohio State,” Matta said.