Athletic Director Gene Smith Says Ohio State Preferred to Delay, Not Cancel Big Ten Season

Buckeye AD speaks on multiple topics with Big Ten Network shortly after official announcement.
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Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith joined Dave Revsine on the Big Ten Network shortly after the league’s announcement to cancel the fall season and push sports, most notably football, to the spring. Here is what he said.

ON THE ULTIMATE DECISION:

"We would have preferred to play and thought we had things aligned to where we could make it happen, but also knew the possibility to postpone or cancel was real. This happened earlier than we would have liked, but the medical experts (who provide great advice) helped us understand that we did what was needed.”

EXPANDING ON THE MEDICAL ASPECT:

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is first and foremost. We thought we had outstanding protocols in place and felt it was a possibility to keep going. I wish we could have had a little more time, but they made us understand it was time to pull the plug. We stand with the league. We were getting ready to put on pads and that is the moment where science can become more real. We supported that outlook and that, maybe, we needed to pause. Our student-athletes have so much passion, but the medical advice overruled.”

ON CONTACT TRACING:

“Contact tracing is one issue, because we just don’t have historical data on short-term or long-term effects. It is important to respect that and now embrace the spring concept. There are a lot of challenges and issues around that, but I’m going to wake up with a new vigor and new passion tomorrow. I will think outside of the box and give our kids an opportunity to compete. They still have their scholarship, an ability to get their education, access to our facilities, services as more.”

ON PLAYING FOOTBALL COMPARED TO STILL BEING ON CAMPUS:

Each game is different. There is anywhere from 70-90 plays per game and, in some places, over 100. The effort to try and create a clean field is a possibility, but reality is that the game is not like sitting in a classroom, walking across campus, or wearing a mask in a lab. This is full contact and, while I understand the position, I know people will draw parallels to still being on campus. We just want to make sure we don’t put people in harm’s way.

ON HAVING TO SPEAK WITH FALL SPORTS TEAMS:

“We were really sad and disappointed. It feels like I failed them and I apologized that we weren’t able to create the ultimate protocols for the game itself. I told them I will wake up with a passion to figure out the spring. They still have so many things to be thankful for. I said they can/should feel depressed tonight and then wake up tomorrow with a new focus. That is life, so that’s what you have to do.

ON BEING AN ADMINISTRATOR RECENTLY:

“Us AD’s had our heads down as managers and were planning, while thing are going on simultaneously as information comes to you. We continued to evaluate and this is where it led. Our new president, Kristina Johnson, was phenomenal and challenged everything. She looked at all angles and I couldn’t be more proud of her leadership. We ultimately preferred to go to September 26 or early October, but this is where we ended up.

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