The Big Ten's decision to postpone fall sports to the spring was not shared by Ohio State's leadership.
In a statement released shortly after the Big Ten's decision, athletic director Gene Smith and president-elect Kristina Johnson made it clear that Ohio State was in favor of delaying the start to the season, not postponing it to spring.
“President-elect Johnson and I were totally aligned in our efforts to delay the start of the season rather than postpone," Smith said. "I am so grateful to her for all her efforts in support of our student-athletes and a traditional fall season.
“As an institution and as an athletic department, we have a responsibility first and foremost to care for the health, safety and wellness of our students and staff, and I believe we have done that successfully.”
Johnson, who will officially become Ohio State's next university president later this month, expressed empathy towards the athletes during this time.
“As a former collegiate athlete whose career in sports was cut short by circumstances beyond my control, I deeply feel the pain, frustration and disappointment that all our players, coaches and staff – and all Buckeye fans – are feeling today,” Johnson said. “I will continue to work closely with Athletics Director Gene Smith, Coach Ryan Day and all coaches and other leaders, to return our student-athletes to competition as soon as possible, while staying safe and healthy."
Despite the postponement, Ohio State clarified that:
- All of those student-athletes on scholarship will remain on scholarship.
- COVID-19 testing by the Department of Athletics and quarantine/isolation protocols will continue for these student-athletes.
- Access to team facilities and locker rooms, and sports performance, medical/training and nutrition areas will be available under the current health and safety protocols that are in place.
- Tutoring, scheduling and additional services provided through the Student-Athlete Support Services Office are ongoing.
- Comprehensive mental health services will continue for all student-athletes through the athletic department’s staff at its Sport Psychology and Wellness Services department
“This is an incredibly sad day for our student-athletes, who have worked so hard and been so vigilant fighting against this pandemic to get this close to their season,” Athletics Director Gene Smith said. “My heart aches for them and their families."