Gene Smith recipient of David Williams II Leadership Award
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.
— Ohio State Buckeyes 🌰 (@OhioStAthletics) May 13, 2022
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.”
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