Retiring Athletic Director Gene Smith Will Be Ohio State’s Autumn Commencement Speaker

By Dan Hope on November 9, 2023 at 2:50 pm
Gene Smith

Ohio State’s graduates this semester will hear from Gene Smith before receiving their diplomas.

Ohio State announced Thursday that Smith, who is in his final year as Ohio State’s athletic director after announcing his retirement in August, will deliver the commencement address at this year’s autumn commencement, which will be held Dec. 17 at the Schottenstein Center.

“Gene Smith has led one of the nation’s premier athletic departments for nearly two decades and has been a dedicated and innovative supporter, leader and mentor to thousands of students and student-athletes over his career,” Ohio State acting president Peter J. Mohler said in a news release. “Beyond Ohio State, Gene has been a pioneer in shaping the future of collegiate athletics at the national level to support the student-athlete.  He is an inspirational leader whose message will resonate with our graduates, their families and friends, and our Buckeye community.”

Being selected to deliver this semester’s commencement address is one of the numerous honors Smith has received since he announced his retirement. In October, Smith was awarded an honorary Varsity “O” letter – an award typically reserved for letterwinning athletes – at Ohio State’s Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

“Commencement is an exciting day for our graduates and their loved ones. I am humbled and honored to serve as commencement speaker. I look forward to sharing a message to inspire these new Buckeye graduates as they embark on the next step of their lives,” Smith said in Ohio State’s release. “I have become close to many of the students who will receive their degrees at this ceremony, and I hope to share some more wisdom and advice as they conclude their academic careers.”

Approximately 3,600 students are in line to receive degrees or certificates at next month’s ceremony, per Ohio State.

Smith’s tenure as Ohio State’s athletic director will conclude at the end of June. Ohio State formed a search advisory committee in October that is responsible for nominating candidates and providing feedback to Collegiate Sports Associates, the firm that is leading the search for Smith’s successor; that committee includes Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, former Ohio State basketball star and Board of Trustees member Clark Kellogg and current women’s hockey coach Nadine Muzerall, among other Ohio State dignitaries.

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