- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith got a promotion, a new title and an extended contract on Tuesday.
The school announced that Smith will be promoted to vice president while still handling athletics director duties until 2020. His current contract was set to end in 2016. His pay will rise about $100,000, to a base salary of $940,484 per year. Including bonuses and incentives, Smith -- who was quoted in my story earlier today about $1 million coordinators -- will likely make seven figures himself at times during the life of the deal.
“Gene Smith is one of this country’s most accomplished collegiate athletics directors, with an exemplary record of national leadership and service,” interim Ohio State president Joseph A. Alutto said in an official statement. “Thanks to his dedication to student success, graduation success rates of Ohio State’s student-athletes have risen by 11 percentage points, to 89 percent. His vision and commitment to excellence have made Ohio State’s department of athletics one of the strongest in the nation.”
Smith has been the Buckeyes' athletics director since 2005, and he has overseen a department that has had numerous successes, especially in the cornerstone programs of football and men's basketball. He was embroiled in the Jim Tressel tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal that ended up costing Tressel his job, and Smith made some public comments during that time that seemed shortsighted at best. He also might have made a mistake by not self-imposing a bowl ban in 2011 that could have potentially helped the 2012 Buckeyes play for the national title.
But Smith got through that controversy, and he helped make the football program arguably even stronger by hiring Urban Meyer. His voice and opinion matters when it comes to Big Ten issues large and small. Overall, Smith has done a great job leading one of the nation's largest and most profitable athletic departments, and the Buckeyes should continue to thrive with stability at the top.
4dBrian Bennett and Josh Moyer