Ohio State has hired a new senior associate athletic director who will oversee the football program.
Jocelyn Gates, who was the senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator at Boston College for the past four years, was named Tuesday as a senior associate director of athletics at Ohio State.
She becomes Ohio State's new sport administrator for football, a role that was previously held by Diana Sabau, who is now the deputy commissioner and chief sports officer of the Big Ten. Gates' responsibilities will also include serving as the administrative liaison to Ohio State's compliance and student-athlete support services offices, administering the department's diversity and inclusion area and oversight of another sport in addition to football.
“We are all excited to welcome Jocelyn to the sports administration team at Ohio State,” said senior deputy athletics director Janine Oman, who led the search to hire Gates and is now second in command in the athletic department following Sabau's departure. “Jocelyn is a connector who excels at building relationships and is committed to providing our student athletes’ exceptional experiences. Her varied and impressive background in intercollegiate athletics will greatly benefit our team.”
Gates joins a team of senior associate athletic directors of sport administration that also includes Shaun Richard, who's been at Ohio State since 2013, and TJ Shelton, who's been with the Buckeyes since 2007.
When Gates was offered the opportunity to work for Ohio State, she didn't hesitate to accept it.
“The opportunity to work with Gene Smith and Janine Oman, two amazing people in the business, is an opportunity you can’t pass up,” Gates said during her introductory press conference on Monday. “And then obviously, the brand of The Ohio State. Who doesn’t want to work at an institution like this, who is about the academics, who is about the student-athlete experience? And then tradition. I’m so excited to be a part of a program and an institution that has such a rich tradition of winning, of a great culture and of providing an awesome experience.
“So when you get a call for a job like this, you don’t turn it down. You run. And that’s what I’m doing, I am running.”
Gates said the opportunity to work with Smith, who she described as “one of the best in the business,” is what excites her the most about joining the Ohio State athletic department.
Smith is looking forward to working with Gates, describing her in a statement as “a highly successful sport administrator with a diverse background of experiences.”
Were excited to welcome Jocelyn as a Buckeye!— Gene Smith (@OSU_AD) June 7, 2021
She has built a tremendous career and I am excited to watch her have a positive impact on our student athletes & department! #GoBuckeyes https://t.co/XWmAAp0Vm3
Gates' husband, Dennis, is the head men's basketball coach at Cleveland State. They have two children – a daughter, Avery, and a son, Duke – and have a third on the way. So the opportunity to join her husband in the state of Ohio, and for their family to all be together much more often, was also a big incentive for her to take the job.
“Now we’re gonna be two hours from each other, so it’s really awesome to be in the same state, have our family together and just be able to grow and just be around each other more often,” Gates said. “But we are fortunate; we have family, we have help, so we make it work, and I hope that others in the business can see that they can make it work as well when they have a partner that also works in the same career.”
A native of Wilmington, Delaware, and a 2003 graduate of Howard University, where she was a four-year letterwinner for the women's soccer team, Gates earned a master's degree in kinesiology-sport psychology from Georgia Southern, then went on to work in the athletic departments at Duke and South Florida before starting at Boston College in 2017. She was in charge of football scheduling, which will be one of her responsibilities at Ohio State, during her time at USF.
During her time at Boston College, where she worked with former Ohio State deputy athletic director Martin Jarmond, Gates oversaw the women's basketball, women's soccer and men's and women's golf programs, had departmental supervision of human resources, student-athlete development, compliance and strength and conditioning and was the athletic department's deputy Title IX coordinator. She was named the Division I FBS Nike Administrator of the Year by Women Leaders in College Sports in 2020.
She was also involved in the process of hiring former Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley as Boston College's head football coach.
“Last time I was in Columbus, it was to get Jeff Hafley to bring him to Boston College,” Gates said. “So Martin did teach me how to steal a great coach and bring him to the institution that you're at.”
As a Black woman now overseeing one of the top football programs in the country, Gates hopes to be an inspiration for others who might aspire to follow in her footsteps.
“I’m excited to be a part of that small group of women that will be overseeing football, but I think it’s also important that as a Black woman, it is recognized that I’m also overseeing and working with Gene Smith on such a big program,” Gates said. “And I think it’s important for me as a female and as a Black female to show those coming after me that they can dream big, they can get opportunities like this and they can work hard and excel. So I just can’t wait to help give back to others who also desire to do something like this.”
Gates, who said her third child is due “any day now,” also wants to be an inspiration for working mothers.
“I just want everyone – women, men, anybody – to understand that you can be a mom in this business. You can excel, and you can do well,” Gates said. “Sometimes you just have to go hard, and you have to find a balance. You have to find a way to integrate your family into your career, and that’s something that, I’ve been fortunate to work at places that value family, and I’m excited about that with Ohio State, because they value family.”