Gene Smith is retiring from his 19-year career as athletic director at The Ohio State University on June 28, 2024. A mere three months later, Smith will be inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame. The question is does he deserve this honor?

Let us first look at his accomplishments at Ohio State. As a university, OhioState has won 35 team national championships since Smith arrived in 2005, and 127 individual national titles in a variety of sports from fencing to wrestling. Smith has also been the driving force behind numerous constructionprojects and facilities upgrades for the athletic department. The Covelli Centerand Tucker Tennis Center were built during his tenure and new facilities for the lacrosse and field hockey squads. Smith was a huge proponent of the Olympic sports and promoted these aggressively at Ohio State. Smith has served as a member of the college football playoff committee and on the selection committee for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. His greatest accomplishments from the fan’s perspective were the hiring of Urban Meyer, and the valiant way Smith led the charge for football during the COVID pandemic. All these accomplishments are very admirable, and create quite the resume, as well as a solid argument for induction.

However, for all Smith’s accomplishments, there are several monumental failures. On May 29, 2011, Smith created a major riff with Buckeye fans when he asked beloved coach Jim Tressel to resign. This came only weeks after stating he supported his coach. Additionally, on the coat tails of these events he self-imposed a bowl ban to be served in 2012, Urban Meyer’s first season, an undefeated season, that cost the coach and the Buckeyes a national championship in football. Then, even to this day, Gene Smith failed to recognize Tressel for everything he did for Ohio State by giving him the honor to “Dot the I” – an honor bestowed upon Woody Hayes and Earl Bruce.

In 2017, he again forced out another well-liked coach in OSU men’s basketball coach Thad Matta. One year later, Smith drove out another coach, this time Urban Meyer. Urban Meyer had given Smith his only championship in football as athletic director at Ohio State. Smith caved to the pressure of unfounded allegations of scandal and despite the statement that Meyer left for “health reasons” given his past it is highly likely Smith encouraged Urban to retire.

Yet Smith does not just chase out great coaches, he also hires mediocre ones. On June 9, 2017, Chris Holtman was hired to replace Thad Matta as coach of the men’s basketball program – a move that would prove to be an epic failure. Holtman would only go 137-86 as head coach of the Buckeyes and have only four invites to the NCAA tournament. Holtman had no Big Ten regular season or tournament titles in his tenure. And they never moved past the second round in the Big Dance.

One of his most egregious mistakes in the eyes of the Buckeye faithful was this past year when he referred to THE GAME as just a game. This proved that he really did not understand the culture, the mindset, or what it meant to be a Buckeye. Now many will say, look at the numbers, look at all the successes, how can you deny him based on the performance of two programs? Those two programs are the only two programs that make money for the university. The money to support the Olympic sports he cherished so much. Those two programs are the programs that drive the donations to the athletic department. Those two programs are what bring pride and notoriety to the Buckeye athletic program. So, not to diminish the accomplishment of the superb athletes and programs of the other 34 varsity programs, there would be no athletic programs at Ohio State without football and men’s basketball. And for Gene Smith to fail those two programs so egregiously, is more than grounds to keep him out of the Buckeye Athletic Hall of Fame!