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By Phil Harrison

Senior Vice President and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director at Ohio State University, Gene Smith, was honored with the David Williams II Leadership Award.

The award, handed out annually to the athletics director who personifies exemplary leadership, vision, service, and dedication in intercollegiate athletics, was presented by the Lead1 Association at its 2022 Collegiate Sports Summit, held in Dallas, Texas.

Many in the field were quick to recognize Smith after 18 years of service at Ohio State.

“Gene is completely and passionately focused on making a difference for young men and young women,” Sandy Barbour, recently retired athletics director at Penn State, said in a statement.

“We’ve been so fortunate to learn from Gene for so many years, to watch him do it with a servant’s heart, with humility, toughness, integrity and living his values every single day,” Pat Chun, director of athletics at Washington State University said. “Gene is a walking example of leadership, regardless if it’s college athletics, business or families. He understands the role of a leader and how his role can help people accomplish their goals.”

And for those that didn’t know, David Williams II was at Ohio State for 14 years, from 1986 to 2000, and was vice president for student and urban/community affairs when he left for Vanderbilt University and positions as vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs, and athletics director. He passed away in 2019.

Smith was clearly humbled by the recognition and was quick to deflect praise to the award’s namesake.

“I feel so honored and privileged to have the opportunity to receive this award in David’s name,” Smith said. “He was a trailblazer. We’re both very different in where we came from, but we shared one passion and that was the student-athletes that all of us in this room serve.

“We cannot forget the ecosystem we serve: it’s those young people that we’re blessed to serve every day. We need to help them understand that they have a chance in our society to be leaders.”

Contact/Follow us @BuckeyesWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Ohio State news, notes, and opinion. Follow Phil Harrison on Twitter.

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Dive Deeper:
Former Ohio State forward, Justin Ahrens, announces transfer destination
Justin Ahrens heads west to continue his collegiate basketball career.
Former Ohio State forward Kyle Young has retired from basketball
We'll keep an eye on what's next in store for Kyle Young. #GoBucks
UW AD Jen Cohen, on the current state of NIL: Recruiting inducements and pay-for-play are ‘taking kids away from schools’
“I’m going to state the obvious,” UW athletic director Jen Cohen began, “and that is that this is a very…
Bob Wojnowski: Schedule is out, and predicting Lions’ record is trickier than usual
It was a reflective moment, a couple days after the Lions finished a draft that was widely praised. Dan Campbell…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Michigan State announces softball coaching change
Michigan State will have a new head coach when the 2023 softball season rolls around
Ohio State walk-on wide receiver transferring
Good luck to Sam! #GoBucks
Get all your news in one place