Gene Smith Says Ohio State ‘Actively Planning’ for Return of Football

Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith

COLUMBUS – Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith released a statement on Wednesday speaking on the plans for Buckeye student-athletes to return to play. This message came following Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren’s open letter to the Big Ten community stating that the Big Ten will not be revisiting the decision to postpone fall sports.

You can read the full statement from Smith below.


On behalf of The Ohio State University and President-elect Kristina M. Johnson, I want to share our plans for getting our student-athletes back to competition as soon as possible.

We thank our student-athletes, coaches, physicians, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, facility and equipment staff, and all support staff who worked tirelessly — particularly during the months of June and July — to help create an environment for us to train and practice.

We thank our student-athletes for their response to our request to follow the protocols that were put in place to contribute to their safety. Because of their commitment to adhere to the protocols, we felt comfortable continuing to practice. The leadership from within our teams has been remarkable.

We thank all of the parents who were instrumental in helping us encourage their daughters and sons to respond to our protocol request, giving us advice and feedback along the way.

We thank our fans for their passion and support. This has been a very difficult time for Buckeye Nation, and we want you all to know that we hear your voices and we share your passion. We want to play the game. We will have our student-athletes back to competition as soon as possible.

I want to thank Dr. Johnson for her unwavering support. She has been 100% aligned with Coach Day and me as we have moved through the decision process.

We benefit greatly from her keen insights and understanding of intercollegiate athletics as an administrator and a former student athlete.

The university has implemented robust health-and-safety measures, including physical distancing, face mask and hygiene requirements throughout our campuses and classrooms, testing and contact tracing protocols, wellness resources, and more.

We can all help our student-athletes get back to competition as soon as possible by doing our part: No social gatherings of more than 10 people, wearing our masks, washing our hands and keeping at least 6 feet apart.

Together as Buckeyes, we can do this. It will require all of our students, faculty and staff doing their parts, along with the broader community, to stay safe and healthy and fight the spread of the virus. We are optimistic that Buckeyes will do what we always do, step up, band together and get the job done.

The Ohio State University is confident that we have the safety protocols and rigorous safeguards in place for our student-athletes to practice and return to competition immediately.

While a decision has been made by the presidents of the Big Ten Conference to postpone the fall season, we view this as a temporary delay, and Dr. Johnson has directed us to prepare for the possibility of bringing at least some of our fall sports back to practice and competition by the end of the year. We are actively planning for the winter and spring seasons for all sports, including the return of football.

As an athletics director at a Big Ten institution, I will always be respectful of our conference as it provides an outstanding platform for our student-athletes to pursue the championship experience. The health and safety of all our students, coaches and support staff is our highest priority. The conference has established the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force to develop plans for winter and spring competition models. I want to thank Dr. Johnson for her participation on this task force

We are focused on creating an environment for our student-athletes to continue to have a quality educational experience at Ohio State this fall. All services will continue to be available, including academic support, strength and conditioning training, sports psychology assistance and skill instruction, to name a few.

We are hopeful our medical experts will continue to learn more about COVID-19 and its effects, our society at large will respond to the requests to implement measures/protocols that contribute to a safe and healthy environment for all, and our research scientists will be successful in their quest to develop a vaccine.

We thank Buckeyes everywhere for their unwavering support.


7 Responses

  1. Hey Big ten presidents,athletic directors,and commissioner Warren enjoy the games today on espn while you are sitting on ass leaving us without a football season ,thanks a lot!

  2. I am not a scientist, but I know statistics. The mortality rate for the flu is .1%. The mortality rate for COVID-19 is about 1.5% – fifteen time higher. Therefore, playing sports under these circumstances would be too risky. Wait a minute, nearly half of the fatalities for COVID-19 are in the 70 or over category. How many college athletes who want to play their sport are over 70 years of age? Not many. The mortality rate for people under 30 is .1%. Same as for the seasonal flu. Have we ever closed down sports for the seasonal flu?

  3. Politics is what got us to this point to begin with. Had it not been the politics of the science deniers, this pandemic could have been dealt with and avoided the huge loss of life, and not gone on this long. Keep ignoring science to your peril.

  4. “sir miles”—lol really? this is ALL political BS at this point….anyone who actually reads facts and gets off msnbc/cnn knows the flu is more dangerous for the majority of the population than covid-19, and very much so for college age students..if you don’t think we should shut down for the flu every season and NEVER have fall football, you are a hypocrite and don’t care about the kids…..but that is all ludicrous because we don’t and shouldn’t shut down for the flu and we sure as heck should not for covid…please disprove me with any actual facts ..your spew is old and politically correct BS…and Warren is a hypocrite–he thinks it’s ok HE and his family can decide for his son at Miss St to play–but hey!! the Big Ten players and families can’t decide that!! Warren is weak. Warren is a hypocrite. Warren is wrong. Ohio St. and the rest of the Big Ten should be playing this fall.

  5. It takes guts to be the leaders and the first to call the season off for the protection of the players. I don’t know that the pac-12 is getting blasted like the BIG is.

    It’s easy to say we’re going to try to play a season like the other 3 conferences are. They aren’t showing they care about their players, they’re showing they only care about football. Come whatever expense for the players and whoever they pass their covid onto, family or others.

    I’d rather have the leaders of the conference I follow, show they actually care about all the players of all the sports. There is no better way to show they care and are concerned about all of the player’s health and well being than to shut down those sports that all the players and fans of those team’s love.

    It’s easy to say you care about the player’s health and will do everything in your power to make sure they are as protected as possible. It’s another thing to put your money where your mouth is-litterally and figuratively, to pay more than lip service to protect those players.

    With all the variables and unknowns of a pandemic that no one yet knows how to fight much less defeat, it is reckless to put player’s health and safety at risk and in some cases surely mortally when extending the chain of who it will be passed on to. And that certainly would extend to coaches, especially the more vulnerable of age and health at OSU and many other colleges.

    The BIG did the absolute right thing and should be applauded for it, not excoriated. The ones that should be put on blast are the conferences using their players for what amounts to indentured servitude. Especially in this climate of covid-19 and what it entails but more importantly what isn’t known. And for what, a season-or more likely, a partial season of sport. And at what cost? It could well be more than they would anticipate in their worst dreams.

  6. “We want you to know that we are on your side and want to have our student-athletes return to practice and competition immediately. We also totally support Commissioner Warren and the B1G that is prohibiting us from doing that.”

  7. Sorry, not good enough. Every other level is playing football, now. Quit picking and choosing what science you believe. Get the politics out of it and we will be playing in the fall and everyone knows it. I hope someone sues The Big 10 and their brand new commissioner, whose son is playing college football down in Mississippi.

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